Listeners of all stripes, feline fanciers or not, will be pleased and amused as the mild adventure winds to a...

MISS HAZELTINE'S HOME FOR SHY AND FEARFUL CATS

A caring young woman who takes in homeless cats finds her kindness rewarded when she suffers in turn.

The plot is slight and straightforward, if delightfully far-fetched, and Potter’s use of clever language further enhances its appeal. Whether given up by their previous owners because of perceived deficiencies (“He runs from mice!”) or strays who find their ways to Miss Hazeltine’s house on their own, each and every cat is welcomed and rehabilitated. Miss Hazeltine teaches them to pounce, climb, stretch and “think good thoughts.” She even shares her own secret fears with Crumb, the smallest, most frightened cat of them all. Meanwhile Sif’s quirky, pencil-drawn, digitally colored illustrations create a vaguely fairy-tale feel, especially in Miss Hazeltine’s cozy home in the forest, which suits the traditional trope of the least likely hero overcoming obstacles to save his beloved. In contrast, touches of modernity and humor, like the heroine’s red high-tops or her use of yoga postures (cat and cow, anyone?) to encourage the strays’ skill-building, add visual interest and a charming freshness. Vignettes, single- and double-page spreads are perfectly paired with the text and offer plenty of details—and cats—to pore over.

Listeners of all stripes, feline fanciers or not, will be pleased and amused as the mild adventure winds to a happily-ever-after ending. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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