A lighthearted story about the bonds and similarities between cats and their young humans.

CATS CAN

Cats can do a variety of fun and mischievous things.

Readers are in for a treat that will make them giggle as they follow a pair of cats’ everyday lives. We learn what a feline pet’s day looks like, from napping to eating to playing with toys. However, we also learn that cats are naughty. They like to climb on furniture, play with clothes, and get in the way of chores. While the cats are the protagonists of this book, the human characters, two children of color, are equally endearing and share many of their pets’ playful qualities. The children's caregiver appears to be White, a fact that invites a wide variety of interpretations. The bright colors of the digital illustrations complement the upbeat narration. An abundance of smiles, toys, and playtime activities underscore the happy, comfortable life that the cats and children share. This picture book would be a welcome addition to any classroom or home library. Whether or not readers have a cat, they can still make connections to the story, from the toys depicted to the children’s hobbies to their daily routines. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lighthearted story about the bonds and similarities between cats and their young humans. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11559-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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