Pete sucks the substance from these words of wisdom and guidance; for avowed lovers of Pete the Cat only.


From the Pete the Cat series

A string of aphorisms and inspirational quotations are glossed and illustrated by that groovy blue cat.

The results are predictably simplistic. Pablo Picasso’s “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” is reduced by Pete to “It’s cool to color outside the lines!” The picture Pete is coloring in the accompanying illustration looks generically childlike, with no hint of cubist genius nor even many violations of the lines. Confucius’ “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” becomes “Keep it simple! Chill out!”; Pete lolls in a hammock and lifts a glass in one fingerless paw. That attitude carries over in demeanor if not setting for Thomas Edison’s wry and pointed “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Pete, duly dressed in overalls, perches on a tractor. Though he tells readers, “Amazing things happen when you work hard!” his trademark heavy-lidded, couldn’t-care-less gaze does not bespeak a hard worker; unsurprisingly, there is no hint of anything “amazing” in the surrounding picture, which is just a wash of green. Trite though many of these sayings have become, they still offer far more opportunities for invention and illustration than Dean seems able to find in them.

Pete sucks the substance from these words of wisdom and guidance; for avowed lovers of Pete the Cat only. (Picture book. 4-84)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-235135-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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?

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?