In this feline retelling of a Chinese tale about how the years were named for 12 different animals, a little girl’s cat provides personal perspective. Willow’s grandma, Nai Nai, tries to tell her the story of when the Jade Emperor invited his favorite animals to a river race, but forgets to include Cat. Offended, Willow’s cat, Mao, spills the real story of how Ox, Rat, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig and Cat competed in the Emperor’s river race. According to Mao, clever Rat convinced Cat they should ride on Ox’s back, but Rat betrayed Cat by pushing him into the river and leaping ashore first to win. So Jade Emperor named the first year cycle the Year of the Rat with each successive year named for the animals that completed the race, except for Cat, who never finished. So’s bright, humorous watercolor illustrations capture the intimacy between Willow and Mao and add punch to the competitive drama of the folktale river race, its sassy storyteller and the intergenerational subtext. (author’s note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59643-202-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...


A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


With each spread opening to an explosion of bright, gorgeous color, Ehlert (Market Day, 2000, etc.) takes a close-up look at the life stages of four butterflies, all of which are seen amidst a profusion of the plant life on which they subsist. Several shorter split pages, lining up with the stems and flowers on the standard-sized pages add extra measures of suspense and surprise as the author tracks her subjects' physical changes. The next set includes long, narrow pages that follow the flight to the flower garden. There, readers will need sunglasses to view the extravagantly hued varieties of butterfly-attracting flowers. Finished with the story, fanciers will find two pages on identification, more detailed descriptive information, and advice about starting a butterfly garden. (But don't remove those sunglasses.) Unfortunately, the main text—a singsong jingle—doesn't measure up to the eye-popping art. In order to serve the rhyme, Ehlert repeatedly has her butterflies "eat" nectar, even though, as explained in the appendix, they actually drink it—but this still makes a riveting introduction to the science and (visually at least) the poetry of these splendidly attired insects. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202608-8

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet