Of more lasting interest to scholars than children, this genial pet-shop visit provides a tantalizing glimpse into a...

WHAT PET SHOULD I GET?

Almost 25 years after the death of the great Dr. Seuss, a new book hits the market.

“We want a pet. / We want a pet. / What kind of pet / should we get?” So begins the narrator and his sister’s visit to a pet store, where they find themselves torn among a bevy of cute, furry creatures including cats, dogs, rabbits, and fish, as well as some “new things.” As presented in the lengthy publisher’s note that follows the story, this newly unearthed picture book likely dates to the late 1950s or early ’60s and has been reconstructed from finished art and multiple iterations of draft revisions. The result is a far more satisfying experience than such other posthumous Seuss publications as Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories (2014) and The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011), which paired more or less finished stories with a few pieces of art. This new-old book presents a complete storyline with a pleasing balance of text and art featuring, on average, one quatrain per page. Unfortunately, it still has a fairly unfinished feel. It’s hard to imagine that the notoriously finicky—admirably so—author would have been entirely happy with the occasionally lackluster and stumbling verse. Moreover, while the illustrations demonstrate an intensifying looniness, progressing from cats and dogs to Seuss’ trademark, unidentifiable rubber-limbed, mop-topped creatures, the text does not keep pace. The “yent” and the “fast kind of thing / who would fly round my head / in a ring on a string” the brother considers feel like first steps toward zaniness rather than a finished artistic vision. The concluding note likewise suffers from a lack of unity, offering an earnest exhortation to eschew pet shops for shelter adoption, a survey of the dogs in Theodor Geisel’s life, and the process art director Cathy Goldsmith followed in turning the newfound manuscript into a book.

Of more lasting interest to scholars than children, this genial pet-shop visit provides a tantalizing glimpse into a master’s artistic process. (Picture book. 3 & up)

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-52426-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Hee haw.

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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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