“Old MacDonald” for narcoleptics


From the Pete the Cat series

The heavy-lidded cat with a cult following dons overalls for a trip to the farm.

There is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about the text in this outing, verses unfurling spread by spread, one per animal. This feline Old MacDonald has some equally heavy-lidded chickens, dogs, cows, pigs, horses, (Siamese) cats, goats, ducks, turkeys, roosters, donkeys, sheep, frogs and geese, as well as a turtle that’s pictured in each scene. They all pretty much say the expected things, though preschoolers will be quick to call shenanigans when they hear that Pete-the-Cat MacDonald’s goats say “baa-baa” while the sheep say “maa-maa.” The “action,” such as it is, plays out on static, green-grassed, blue-skied backgrounds in which the occasional tractor or barn trades places with a red pickup. Aside from Pete and his turtle, the animals included in the spreads vary, sometimes accumulating and sometimes not; children who like to find patterns will be frustrated here. But the book’s biggest liability is its star’s practically comatose affect. Jacket copy and the character’s mythos tell readers that Pete’s “groovy,” but he just looks like he couldn’t care less. As the lyrics of “Old MacDonald” beg to be sung aloud with brio, Pete’s never-changing expression and the unwavering stolidity of the compositions make a hopeless mismatch.

“Old MacDonald” for narcoleptics . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-219873-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre.


A bear cub gets a load of lyrical loving from a lumbering parent in this nature walk.

Expressed in stumbling rhyme—“I love you more than trees / love to change with every season. / I love you more than anything. / I cannot name just one reason”—Benson’s perfervid sentiments accompany scenes of bear and cub strolling through stands of birch, splashing into a river to watch (just watch) fish, and, in a final moonlit scene, cuddling beneath starry skies. Foxes, otters, and other animal parents and offspring, likewise adoring, make foreground cameos along the way in Lambert’s neatly composed paper-collage–style illustrations. Since the bears are obvious stand-ins for humans (the cub even points at things and in most views is posed on two legs), the gender ambiguity in both writing and art allow human readers some latitude in drawing personal connections, but that’s not enough to distinguish this uninspired effort among the teeming swarm of “I Love You This Much!” titles.

A particularly soppy, sloppy addition to an already-overstuffed genre. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68010-022-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Good bedtime reading.


Only polar bears are allowed on Polar Bear Island, until Kirby, a friendly, creative penguin, arrives on the scene.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, large white lettering proclaims against an azure sky: “Polar Bear Island was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.” Below, Parker—paint can in left paw—can be seen facing his sign: “Welcome to Polar Bear Island. No Others Allowed.” On the recto, Kirby floats into view on an ice floe, with hat, scarf, and overstuffed suitcase. When Kirby arrives, Parker grudgingly allows her an overnight stay. However, she soon proves her worth to the other bears; she has invented Flipper Slippers, which keep extremities warm and reverse from skates to snowshoes. Now Kirby is allowed to stay and help the bears make their own Flipper Slippers. When her family shows up with more inventions, Parker feels compelled to give them a week. (Presumably, the penguins have made the 12,430-mile-trip from the South Pole to the North Pole, characterized merely as “a long journey.”) A minor crisis permanently changes Parker’s attitudes about exclusivity. The text is accessible and good fun to read aloud. The weakness of the ostensible theme of granting welcome to newcomers lies in the fact that all the newcomers are immediately, obviously useful to the bears. The cartoonlike, scratchboard-ish graphics are lighthearted and full of anthropomorphic touches.

Good bedtime reading. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2870-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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