While the cat’s adventures ultimately prove a bit ho-hum, the art and the cat’s joie de vivre are enticing.

HOW ABOUT A NIGHT OUT?

Join a city cat on a vibrant nocturnal adventure.

While “lap cats are lazy cats, / who only sleep on hallway mats,” this “city kitty” would rather make a little noise out on the town! Told in catchy couplets, the poem catalogs the cat’s nighttime excursion through the urban environment, whether it’s meeting other feline friends to “catercall upon the wall” or starting a rollicking prowl for owls and pigeons. But while the cat narrator may be exuberant about its feline-centric exploits, human readers might be less enamored of what is essentially a rhyming list of generic, cat-related activities. Though the cat proclaims it a “night to sing about,” there is no grand adventure centering the narrative, and the unceremonious arrival of morning, announced when people start to “put the garbage out,” makes the cat’s night out—and the whole story—feel like a bit of a letdown. With wild, round goldenrod-colored eyes, a sleek striped body, and bottlebrush tail, the partying kitty gleams against the deep-black night sky and bustling cityscapes. Flat colors reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’ palette allow the lit windows and cat silhouettes to shine, and the large-headed, sly-looking cats that move fluidly across the pages are perfectly matched to the playful rhythm.

While the cat’s adventures ultimately prove a bit ho-hum, the art and the cat’s joie de vivre are enticing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912757-14-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boxer Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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