Reminiscent of the succinct storytelling and expressive brushwork of Chris Raschka and Kevin Henkes, this quiet, historical...

THE WHITE CAT AND THE MONK

A RETELLING OF THE POEM "PANGUR BÁN"

In the ninth century C.E., an anonymous, Irish Benedictine monk penned a poem drawing parallels between the pursuits of his cat and his own work; Bogart’s retelling and Smith’s paintings create an accessible window into this world.

The tale begins wordlessly with watercolor-and-ink compositions framed in sequential panels of varying size. Readers follow the titular feline from a forest into the monastery, where he pads under vaulted ceilings to a row of closed doors. From within one, light leaks out, and a robed man with a long, white beard welcomes his friend: “I, monk and scholar, / share my room // with my white cat, Pangur. / By candle’s light, late into the night / we work, each at a special trade.” The voice is lyrical yet easily understood. As the animal stalks a mouse, the monk studies a manuscript. The illuminated pages he pores over present cryptic, Celtic-inspired designs featuring the picture book’s characters. The palette shifts from shadowy panels with spots of golden light to colorful full bleeds depicting the open volume. Contentment and joy are reflected in text and image as the duo move toward the window; joined by a butterfly, they behold the “light in the darkness.”

Reminiscent of the succinct storytelling and expressive brushwork of Chris Raschka and Kevin Henkes, this quiet, historical gem will charm children and adults alike. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-780-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more