A sweet, comical choice for readers transitioning to chapter books.


From the Kitty and Dragon series , Vol. 1

A quirky pairing of a dragon and a tabby cat makes for some amusing adventures, told in three vignettes.

It all starts when a gray feline simply named Kitty is driven out from the barn where she lives by the unrelenting noise from her farm buddies. She journeys through a downtown lined with magical shops and traverses a forest and hills before scaling a tall mountain. Along the way, various fairies, frogs, and colorful furry giants call out warnings of a “silent dragon” that lives at the top of the mount. Once she summits the peak, an exhausted Kitty finds a warm cave and a friendly red dragon who readily accepts her companionship. In the second chapter, Kitty has come down with a cold, so Dragon springs into action. After some research, he makes a blanket, noodle soup, and some tea, all shown in a series of charming scenes as he nurses Kitty back to health. For the finale, Kitty is frustrated by the messy tendencies of Dragon. Desperate, she buys a “tidying-up” potion from the magic shop downtown. The silly results force Kitty to weigh what she really values. Spare, declarative text effectively narrates while Reid supplies lively backdrops that frequently span double-page spreads and incredibly cute characters; Dragon is nonverbal but still plenty expressive. With just a few short sentences per page, this fits neatly between high-level early readers and more-complex chapter books.

A sweet, comical choice for readers transitioning to chapter books. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6100-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Hee haw.

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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.


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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