Cat lovers will adore this beguiling board book.

123 CATS

A CAT COUNTING BOOK

Meow! Meet and count a dozen charismatic kitties.

A captivating selection of frolicking felines participate in familiar, kitty-centric activities, such as napping, snuggling, and snacking. Each double-page spread adds another kitty until No. 12, a tiny cream-colored kitten, closes the party—because he “knows that cats come better by the dozen!” Though the rhyming text is easy enough to read aloud, some stanzas feel safe and a bit stale: “Cat Number Six feels like she’s in heaven / when she’s snuggled up with Cat Number Seven.” However, beautiful illustrations, rendered via sumi ink on watercolors, elevate the verses. Each cat—from a fluffy ginger tabby to a slinky Sphynx—is imbued with a unique look and personality. Cats tugging on toys, using stairs as a playground, or grooming each other brim with charm, and going from Cat No. 1 to a cramped cavalcade of 12 of them easily demonstrates number progression. Although Newman took few risks in the text of this book, she goes the opposite direction in ABC Cats, giving readers delightful, vocabulary-rich lines that beg to be read with panache: “Elegant cat with dignified pose / Finicky cat turns up her nose.” An oversized letter is paired with a demonstrative cat (S, for instance, introduces a wary, eyes-wide “scaredy-cat”), and all 26 entries in the cattery are purr-fectly entrancing.

Cat lovers will adore this beguiling board book. (Board book. 1-6)

Pub Date: April 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0995-2

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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