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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Hee haw.

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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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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