A third cat tale is on the way—cat fanciers, get ready.




Meow. Following Macavity: The Mystery Cat (2016), another devious cat from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (originally published in 1939) makes his appearance. This time, it’s Mr. Mistoffelees.

“For performing surprising illusions… // And creating eccentric confusions. / At prestidigitation / And at legerdemain / He’ll defy examination / And deceive you again.” Even great magicians have something to learn from Mr. Mistoffelees. Whether cutting a dog in half, performing card tricks, or doing stunts with a cork or a knife and spoon, there’s no doubt that Mr. Mistoffelees is a magical cat! As in the earlier companion book, it’s Robins’ lively, clever illustrations that pull the humor out of the hat and animate the story. Children will cheer as he sneaks through an impossibly tiny crack to snatch a very large fish and then slinks off with it “on the narrowest rail” of an ornamental fence. It doesn’t matter that young kids will not be familiar with the original source; they will simply be delighted with the rhyming text and the reactions to his humorous acts. Mr. Mistoffelees is a jaunty, disheveled charmer, black fur, red vest, and striped bow tie with top hat (of course) and magic wand. The hand-lettered text adds to the sprightliness.

A third cat tale is on the way—cat fanciers, get ready. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-571-32222-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.


Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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