CATS, CATS, CATS!

A celebration of all things feline, this frisky, rib-tickling picture book unveils the secret life of cats. In jaunty rhyming couplets, the author spins a tale about the elderly Mrs. Brown, who lives in a house full of cats—60 of them to be exact. Like all tabbies, Mrs. Brown’s darlings laze the days away, snoozing in every manner and every corner. From sunup to sundown, Mrs. Brown is surrounded by dormant felines. Yet when she retires for the evening, the languid cats spring to life. “As soon as she began to snore / The fun began with cats galore / Cats in the entryway throwing confetti / Cats in the dining room eating spaghetti.” While Mrs. Brown peacefully dozes, her cats have a boisterous bash. Kids and catlovers alike will be tickled pink by Newman’s comical depiction of the cats disporting themselves in a very human manner: knitting, writing, cooking, and even dancing. Oller’s watercolors, ranging in size from full-bleed to smaller vignettes delightfully inserted within the text, compliment the tale, reflecting the essence of cathood. Amorphously drawn creatures colored in a palette of soft hues lie prostrate upon every surface, conveying the unique boneless quality of slumbering felines. The upbeat tempo of the rhymes and the humor are infectious, and even those usually uninspired by felines will be hard-pressed to resist Newman’s convivial bunch. A whimsical tale perfect for cat fanciers young and old. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83077-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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