This feline protagonist makes peace with the newcomer but may not prevail over more engaging cat tales.

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CAT LADIES

A pampered pet initially resents the ways an interloper disrupts her routine.

The brisk, quirky, tongue-in-cheek text is told in the third person from Princess the cat’s point of view. It begins by introducing Princess’ “four ladies” and describing the various activities they share with her. Busy with personal grooming, running errands, bird-watching, and singing with the eponymous band, Princess is perfectly happy until a “stray” comes into their lives. She tries to maintain the status quo, but the newcomer seems to have taken her place. Feeling neglected, she slinks off to spend some time alone (and possibly sulk a bit). Comic touches include reversing stereotypical statements (“Some cats say [four ladies is] too many”), echoes of traditional tales (Princess’ search for a private spot leads to places that are “too high…too hard…and…too cramped”), and depicting the unwanted guest as a human child rather than another cat. Unfortunately, these light touches can’t entirely compensate for the somewhat predictable plot and Princess’ abrupt about-face. Schaefer’s illustrations are busy and energetic, with varying textures that give them a collaged feel. Retro shades of teal and mustard dominate, complementing the blocky shapes and geometric motifs. Princess’ simply drawn features effectively communicate a variety of emotions. Two of her ladies have light-brown skin, as does the young visitor, implying racial and/or ethnic diversity.

This feline protagonist makes peace with the newcomer but may not prevail over more engaging cat tales. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4082-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment.

PIG THE TOURIST

From the Pig the Pug series

People who live in popular spots always complain when human tourists invade, but when the visitor is an unruly dog like Pig the pug, the situation gets even worse.

The big-eyed, ill-behaved pug runs roughshod over everyone: his owner, a brown-skinned woman who remains faceless; Trevor, his owner’s other dog, a big-eyed dachshund (every human and animal has large eyes in Blabey’s amusing illustrations); and all the other people, animals, works of art, and architectural marvels encountered in Pig’s world travels. Pig disrupts a Japanese geisha’s lunch; he angers some scantily clad Caribbean carnival dancers; he breaks the head off the Sphinx in Egypt; and he disturbs the queen’s tea and menaces her prize corgis, prompting the headline: “CHAOS AT THE PALACE: Queen shaken, not stirred.” (Young readers will likely be unmoved by this joke.) Yes, the rhyming text is occasionally clever and the pictures are full of action, but there is nothing original in this skewed presentation of a few of the world’s best-known, stereotypically presented tourist sites. Although Pig does get a well-deserved punishment for his rude behavior (piranhas attack when he least expects it), he still manages to get the last word when he stinks up first class with a very explicitly visual fart. The moral of the story? Leave Pig in the kennel when you travel.

Everyone except die-hard Pig fans may skip this installment. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59339-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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