As the bedbug says, “absolutely / deeee licious”; a delightful introduction for audiences not quite ready for Douglas...

NASTY BUGS

In poems written especially for this humorously illustrated collection, 16 versatile poets describe 16 different, mostly familiar and certainly unwelcome insects.

“Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! / Uck! Uck! Uck!” From stink bugs to giant water bugs, with nods to agricultural pests, creatures that bite or sting and those that prefer our waste, Hopkins and his fellow poets celebrate the pests among us. Contributors include many whose names will be familiar to readers of children’s poetry. From free verse to tight rhyme and rhythm, the forms are as diverse as the insects described. As in any collection, the poems vary in strength, but for read-aloud or choral presentation, many will have both audience and performer appeal. Terry’s smooth, vividly colored paintings, mostly double-page spreads underlying the poems, add to the fun. These bright illustrations exaggerate his anthropomorphized subjects’ bug-eyes, sharp teeth and pincers. But there’s some genuine information as well, both in the poetry and in the backmatter, which includes each creature’s scientific name or order, a thumbnail and a few words from the poem and an additional factual paragraph (which strains, sometimes, to include the titular “nasty”).

As the bedbug says, “absolutely / deeee licious”; a delightful introduction for audiences not quite ready for Douglas Florian’s Insectlopedia (1998) or Joyce Sidman’s Song of the Water Boatman, illustrated by Beckie Prange (2005). (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3716-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

BAD KITTY GETS A PHONE (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

A craving for the latest tech leads to cat-astrophe in this new addition to the Bad Kitty series.

With her heart set on owning a cellphone, anthropomorphic house cat Kitty plows through three solid months of chores without complaining before her owners reluctantly grant her fervent wish. Then things go rapidly downhill. She becomes obsessed with violent mobile games, gets catfished (no pun intended), divulges too much personal information online, becomes consumed with rage at cyberbullies, and grows listless from excessive screen time. Only after the intervention of a Sphynx cat named Strange Kitty and a monthlong technology fast enforced by her owners does Kitty come to understand that while smartphones are fun, they can also be a serious distraction from real life and true friends. Using a digestible graphic-novel format, the book tackles internet safety and digital media literacy with purr-fect aplomb. The “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” section serves as a deep dive into the differences between facts and opinions, and many of Kitty’s quirky feline behaviors ring true. It’s unfortunate that the word lame—a disability-related term with negative connotations—is used by the internet trolls who deride the video Kitty makes and posts on “ViewTube.” Occasional misstep aside, Kitty’s tribulations provide ample fodder for this instructive and amusing tale.

A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-74996-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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