With phrases seemingly thrown in because they rhyme, not because they advance any sort of plot, this is one to skip.

THE CAT IN THE RHINESTONE SUIT

Cash’s latest is plagued with problems similar to those facing his previous two children’s offerings, awkward syntax and poor scansion being the worst of these, but he also adds a new one to the mix: a thin, if enthusiastic plot.

Rhyming verse tells the tale of Cat and Mouse, who travel together, singing as they ride their bandicoot and camel, respectively, through the desert. Cat has a score to settle with Del Moore the snake, who stole his catnip ball when he was just a kitten. But before a showdown can take place, disaster strikes: The bandicoot trips, and the four travelers wind up precariously hanging from a cliff. Snake is the only passer-by who hears their cries and stops to help. “Snake offered Cat his tail end. / Out the Cat’s paw did extend. / Del Moore said, / ‘Let’s just be friends!’ / And the Cat gave a smile.” Instead of allowing readers to infer the moral offered by this pat ending about second chances, the author supplies his own, which has little to do with the story. Nash does his best to meet the underlying good intentions of the text. From his palette to the clothing his characters wear, the illustrations have a retro feel that suits the Old West setting. His characters have a Richard Scarry look to them, especially the cat.

With phrases seemingly thrown in because they rhyme, not because they advance any sort of plot, this is one to skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7483-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon Inspirations/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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