The plot is familiar, but energetic artwork and a comical twist at the end may make it feel fresh enough to entertain a new...

RED CAT BLUE CAT

Feline enemies become firm friends in this predictable but potentially pleasing debut.

Bright, blotchy, child-like pictures show a stripy red cat and a spotted blue cat that live on separate floors of a sketchily drawn house. The cause of friction between them isn’t clear, but readers are quickly informed that despite their scrapping, each is secretly envious of the other. Blue Cat wants to be “fast and bouncy like Red Cat,” while Red Cat “wishe[s] he were as smart as Blue Cat.” Each tries to change color, believing that will change their attributes. But eating appropriately colored food, rolling in paint and/or dressing up, although mildly amusing, doesn’t change anything. Working together to get clean and comfortable, however, does the trick (not entirely convincingly), and soon the two are sharing advice on how to be more active and/or clever. Like the text, Desmond’s playful illustrations are straightforward. Multiple vignettes on most pages appear to incorporate paint, ink and some printed papers with the two title colors dominating, but there’s plenty of white space as well. One small portrait shows the family that likely lives in the house too, but the focus remains firmly on the fractious cats.

The plot is familiar, but energetic artwork and a comical twist at the end may make it feel fresh enough to entertain a new generation of feline fanciers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60905-248-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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