Losing a pet is always difficult; finding a new one isn’t the solution for everyone, but in this case, it’s a decidedly...

GHOST CAT

A young child describes the behavior of a spectral cat.

Straightforward first-person narration combines with simply composed illustrations to explain why the child believes that a ghost cat shares the house with them. Although they admit that “It’s always gone before I can really see it,” they’re convinced that the cat is moving around, engaged in typical feline behaviors like scratching, rubbing, cuddling, and meowing. Illustrations that show upended books and bowls and a traumatized fish provide additional, gently humorous evidence to support their hypothesis. When they finally catch a glimpse of the ghost cat (readers have seen it all along—gray-blue surrounded by a haze of white with staring yellowish eyes), it’s on its way out, or rather “through,” the front door. The child opens the door to find an apparently corporeal white kitten waiting there. Atteberry’s digitally created artwork features a limited but appealing palette of primarily warm golds and browns and cool blues, punctuated with greens and yellows. Lightly sketched backgrounds are spare in detail, though a few carefully placed photos suggest that the child and cat once shared their home in a more conventional fashion. The minimal detail extends to the child’s face, which is very expressive despite the absence of a mouth (the child has beige skin and a shock of straight, brown hair).

Losing a pet is always difficult; finding a new one isn’t the solution for everyone, but in this case, it’s a decidedly happy development. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4283-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 12, 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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