In the latest Bunnicula spinoff, canine author Howie sets his sights on winning a coveted “Newboney” Award, enlisting the advice of heartthrob Delilah, who not only offers cogent advice—“It also helps if the characters are poor and somebody dies . . . or if the main character, usually a child and preferably an orphan, goes on a long journey. Alone. Oh, and it should be a book girls like”—but volunteers her services as co-writer. As chronicled in Howie’s handwritten (paw-written?) Writer’s Journal, the collaboration quickly degenerates into a dogfight as the two wrangle over a title (“Walk Two Bones,” “Delilah, Beautiful and Short”), and pen alternate chapters heavy on either action or character development, but never both. Eventually, a time-travel-horror-coming-of-age tale featuring a basement time machine, two puppies, and a scholarly frog from a previous episode, emerges. After Delilah develops the characters to a fare-thee-well in the final chapter, the last word goes to M.T. Graves, bestselling author of the Fleshcrawler series, who supplies a fulsome blurb. High-nosed puppies cut unabashedly noble figures in Helquist’s broadly humorous pictures. Younger readers may have to go to librarians or well-read parents to have some of the in-jokes explained, but for all pup writers, not to mention the next Newboney Committee, this is a “must-chew.” (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-83953-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.


Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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