“One Small Step for a Mouse” indeed.

ARMSTRONG

THE ADVENTUROUS JOURNEY OF A MOUSE TO THE MOON

A furry genius with eyes on the skies goes where no one has gone before.

Golden-toned, lavishly detailed views of a mid-1950s world from a city mouse’s eye level enrich a soaring tale of astronautic achievement. Inspired by a visit to that hidden wing of the Smithsonian where flying machines built by rodent aviators of the past are exhibited, a mouse resolves to bring back proof of his theory that the moon is made of stone (the other mice, understandably, find the notion that it’s made of cheese more compelling). Persevering through multiple false starts and setbacks, including a disastrous fire caused by an experimental roller-skate rocket, he constructs at last an oddly familiar-looking multistage craft that carries him into space and on to a lunar landing. Clad in a space suit with an ink-bottle helmet, he ventures out to gather a souvenir rock and plant a tiny flag, then returns in triumph to be acclaimed by his peers. The illustrations are visually immersive for their wealth of precisely rendered period items and architecture, also adding side business both humorous and dramatic to the epic venture. Positing that some of the mouse’s diminutive but exact design drawings later fell into human hands and inspired the Apollo program, Kuhlmann (Moletown, 2015) closes with a short history of our own early space travel featuring photorealistic portraits of that other Armstrong and like (supposed) pioneers.

“One Small Step for a Mouse” indeed. (Illustrated fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4262-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise.

BAD KITTY GOES ON VACATION

From the Bad Kitty (chapter book) series

A trip to the Love Love Angel Kitty World theme park (“The Most Super Incredibly Happy Place on Earth!”) turns out to be an exercise in lowered expectations…to say the least.

When Uncle Murray wins a pair of free passes it seems at first like a dream come true—at least for Kitty, whose collection of Love Love Kitty merch ranges from branded underwear to a pink chainsaw. But the whole trip turns into a series of crises beginning with the (as it turns out) insuperable challenge of getting a cat onto an airplane, followed by the twin discoveries that the hotel room doesn’t come with a litter box and that the park doesn’t allow cats. Even kindhearted Uncle Murray finds his patience, not to say sanity, tested by extreme sticker shock in the park’s gift shop and repeated exposures to Kitty World’s literally nauseating theme song (notation included). He is not happy. Fortunately, the whole cloying enterprise being a fiendish plot to make people so sick of cats that they’ll pick poultry as favorite pets instead, the revelation of Kitty’s feline identity puts the all-chicken staff to flight and leaves the financial coffers plucked. Uncle Murray’s White, dumpy, middle-aged figure is virtually the only human one among an otherwise all-animal cast in Bruel’s big, rapidly sequenced, and properly comical cartoon panels.

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise. (Graphic satire. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20808-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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