Though published for the preschool audience, this will no doubt find enthusiastic fans of all ages.

CAT TALK

As they did previously for dogs (Once I Ate a Pie, illustrated by Katy Schneider, 2006), MacLachlan and Charest give voice to a collection of charming pets beautifully rendered by veteran illustrator Moser.

In 13 poems, each on a double-page spread, 16 cats (and one mouse) are lovingly described. Cat fanciers will immediately recognize the personalities of these particular pussycats. From the straightforward revelation of the delightfully outsized ego of Princess Sheba Darling, who declares “I love me,” to affectionate Romeo’s embrace of everyone and everything, to the wary, unwilling domestication of torn-eared Tough Tom, the poems speak in the cats’ voices. That they also manage with only a few words to create specific situations, sometimes even including a bit of a back story, is what makes these poems true portraits rather than the cute caricatures that sometimes inhabit collections like this one. Moser’s watercolor illustrations, of course, contribute significantly to the overall quality. Majestic, maternal, suspicious, playful or placid, each cat is pictured in a pose and setting that reflect and illuminate the text. Tuck’s toes and tail peek out from the covers beside two pairs of bare feet. Alice balances on the edge of the bathtub. Minnie slips through the night, almost invisible.

Though published for the preschool audience, this will no doubt find enthusiastic fans of all ages. (Picture book. 4 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-027978-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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