Birds Fly A Cat Tries


A charming wordless picture book for young children that conveys a message of friendship with a deceptively simple...

A cat pursues his dream of flight and succeeds, with a little help from some feathery friends, in another delightfully entertaining picture book from author/illustrator Bartlett.

A deft visual storyteller with a talent for quirky, child-friendly humor, Bartlett has created this gently comical narrative through double- and single-spread illustrations—colored and graphite-style line drawings of appealing characters against expansive white space. And in lieu of words, he relies on an expressive use of question marks and exclamation points. The book begins as a pink, googly-eyed little bird loop-de-loops over the head of a chubby orange tabby. Far from eyeing the bird as a potential meal, the cat admires the bird’s aerial gymnastics (represented throughout the book by a lively dotted line), and he’s clearly struck by a desire to go soaring himself. But how? As the enterprising kitty experiments with various ways he might take flight, the puzzled bird that inspired him watches his efforts and is joined by other curious feathered observers. (Parents might use the humorous birds to encourage young children to get in some counting practice: Bartlett increases and decreases their numbers page by page, from one to five and back again over the course of the tale.) Each of the cat’s ideas—a rickety chair, a bunch of helium balloons and a pair of cardboard wings among them—propels the determined feline to try, try again. The little birds, meanwhile, flit through the pages watching the cat’s doomed-to-fail efforts until, after perching on telephone wires to engage in a noisy confab (rendered as a witty multiplication of question marks and exclamation points), they decide to help the hapless tabby attain his wish. Bartlett, who offers the book’s dedication “For all those who dare to try,” ends his good-hearted tale with an unexpected visual giggle underscored by one final question mark.

A charming wordless picture book for young children that conveys a message of friendship with a deceptively simple illustrative style, gentle humor and certain well-placed punctuation marks.

Pub Date: July 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7339086-6-5

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Sandhill Publishers, LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014


Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019