Clearly a paean to the pleasures of having a cat companion, this catalog of Max’s actions should win plenty of accolades:...

MAX ATTACKS

A pet cat demonstrates typical feline behavior.

The orange and pink fish swimming in the fishbowl fascinate Max, pictured as a blue cat with black stripes. He is easily distracted, however, so his first foray to get the fish ends quickly when he takes a detour up the patio-door screen in pursuit of a lizard. The fact that he then pulls the curtains down on the dog’s head results in a comical tally: “Max, one. Dog, none.” The distractions (and the scorekeeping) continue. Max chases a catnip toy, battles a basket of socks, and pounces on a swinging shoestring. After each diversion, he returns to the fishbowl. His eventual assault appears to be successful, but the final reckoning reassures readers that the fish have survived to swish another day. Rollicking rhymes and playful language create an admiring third-person narrative that perfectly captures Max’s energy and charm. The typeface, which mimics painted block printing, adds personality and enhances the humor. Dullaghan’s illustrations suggest a spare, mid-20th-century modern home; lots of white space keeps the focus on the bouncy main character’s amusing antics. Textured brush strokes add to the sense of movement, while simply drawn features convey a wealth of emotion (even in the case of the unflappable fish).

Clearly a paean to the pleasures of having a cat companion, this catalog of Max’s actions should win plenty of accolades: Max, a million; readers a million-plus. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5146-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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