KATJE, THE WINDMILL CAT

A tale of feline heroism from 15th-century Holland. Katje the cat leads a near-perfect life with Nico the miller, until he marries. Lena is clearly not a cat person, and when infant Anneke is born, Katje, despite obvious mutual affection between baby and cat, is banished to the mill. But when a heavy rainstorm causes the dike to break, it’s the loyal cat that dashes to Anneke as the floodwaters rise, rocking the cradle to keep it from being swamped as it’s swept through the flooded town. Needless to say, Katje’s billet is assured from that time on. Woelfle’s tale is told in a stately storyteller’s voice. The third-person narrative is filtered through the cat’s point-of-view, illuminating the special relationship between human and cat. Bayley’s (All for the Newborn Baby, 2000, etc.) delicate watercolor pencil illustrations are full of detail, harkening back to the medieval Dutch and Flemish painters. These full-color illustrations are complemented by Delft blue tiles at the left of each page, the tiny details of which echo the action in the main illustrations—a dead mouse is depicted with tiny feet in the air on one tile, while the accompanying picture shows a determined Katje chasing mice through the mill. It would be an altogether pleasing piece of bookmaking except for the choice of a Calligraphic typeface, whose slanting, ornate letters are presumably meant to heighten the historic feel of the work but which is ultimately hard on the eyes and detracts from the overall design. A pity, but the work overall represents a nicely done alternative to the many dog-as-hero stories for children. An author’s note follows the story, detailing the historical events that inspired the story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-1347-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more