Quite a charming character, that Cat.

HERE COMES SANTA CAT

From the Here Comes… series

The egocentric feline protagonist of Here Comes the Easter Cat (2014) returns for another opportunity to receive a present, just as the ending of the previous story predicted.

The format is the same, with gentle questions from an unseen authority figure (quite parental in tone) asking what Cat can possibly be thinking with each new wild idea. The silent but hardly uncommunicative Cat answers with signs, gestures or actions, or sometimes just with one of his many endearing facial expressions. He is dressed like Santa so he can give himself a present, since he doesn’t think he’s been good enough to warrant a gift on his own merits. (That pie chart is pretty damning.) Following suggestions from the narrator, Cat pursues some activities to improve his niceness quotient (caroling, giving fish to children, decorating the community tree), with, er, limited success. Grudgingly, he then shares some food with a kitten. He is rewarded with a present from the real Santa—a green Santa’s Helper suit—as well as a ride in Santa’s sleigh. The illustrations in inks and colored pencils are pleasantly whimsical, and the generous white space, old-fashioned typeface and uncluttered format work just as well in the sequel as in the first volume. Cat seems to have all sorts of schemes up his furry sleeves; perhaps he’ll be angling for birthday presents or a visit from the tooth fairy next?

Quite a charming character, that Cat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4100-3

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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

THE BOOK HOG

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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