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

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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Hee haw.

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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