Tag: pets

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Brian Floca (9780763648220, Amazon)

A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces in this wonderful mashup of princess tale and crocodile naughtiness. Cora is a princess who tries her best to do what her father the king and her mother the queen want. She takes three baths a day, studies dull books about finance, and exercises by jumping rope. Over and over again, day after day, until she simply can’t take it anymore. So she writes to her fairy godmother and asks for a pet. But when she opens the box, it’s an enormous crocodile rather than a dog. The princess and crocodile switch places for a day and chaos ensues. The princess has a lovely messy day outdoors exploring and playing. The crocodile meanwhile forces the nanny into the bathtub, locks the queen in the library with only the dull books, and chews on the king in a most sensitive spot! Still, a crocodile may be exactly what this royal family needs.

Schlitz is a chameleon of an author, moving with grace and skill from one sort of format to another. Here she seemingly effortlessly creates a chapter book for newer readers that reveals from the very cover that there is great fun inside. The brilliant and highly unusual combination of princess story with dresses and crowns with a crocodile who isn’t afraid to bite royal ankles and bottoms is pure brilliance. This is a princess book that I would merrily give to any child whether they enjoy princesses or not, after all, there’s a funny crocodile who makes it all wild and wonderful.

Floca’s art is an impressive pairing here. He runs with the mashup of princess and crocodile, the art having a serious tone at first as the royal family is depicted in all of their earnest childraising. The Victorian feel of the book is perfection, until the crocodile appears. Then a green wildness comes into the story, filling it with sharp teeth and plenty of attitude. Floca’s art though is broad enough to fit Victorian rules with crocodile play on the same page with hilarious results. It’s the play of the rules and formality against the silliness that makes the art such a joy.

A great chapter book pick, share this one aloud in a classroom because it will appeal to all readers! Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.

A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie

a-cat-named-swan-by-holly-hobbie

A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie (9780553537444)

This is the story of a small kitten, who was suddenly alone on the city streets. He learned a lot about the dangers, scavenged for food, and survived. Until one day, he was taken off of the streets and put into a cage. There was plenty of food there though and no one was mean to him. Soon afterwards, he was adopted. And that is where his life changed. It became a series of perfect days. Days that started with breakfast, were filled with exploring the garden, had visits and naps, and ended with everyone returning home in the evening. Each day became night with him curled on a pillow fast asleep.

This picture book shows the harrowing life of a small kitten alone outside. Then it becomes a rescue and adoption story, one that is pure joy after the rescue takes place. The kitten learns about his new family, the dog, and the garden and house that are his too. There are small adventures, plenty of pleasures like just being with one another and bumblebees. It’s a picture book about small joys and the wonder of having a pet.

Hobbie’s illustrations are filled with energy and carry emotions clearly. The image of the kitten being lifted by his family for the first time is pure sunshine and blue sky. Readers know right then and there not to worry any longer. When they see the gardens and land, they realize that Swan has landed in kitten nirvana.

A testament to the power of animal adoption and the joy of a life well lived. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Random House Books for Young Readers.

 

Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn

lola-gets-a-cat-by-anna-mcquinn

Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Released February 14, 2017.

Continuing the Lola series, this book is all about Lola wanting a pet of her own. Lola’s mother says that cats are a lot of work, so Lola researches about cats and starts to practice on her stuffed toy cat, Dinah. Eventually, her mother agrees that Lola can have her own cat. They go to the shelter where one cat picks out Lola. The family shops for all of the items they will need to take care of their new pet. Lola practices a lot of patience, letting her new pet settle in before trying to play. The two of them steadily become great friends with lots of snuggles.

There is a gorgeous warmth to all of the Lola books and this one is no exception. The strong family dynamic is shown once again here as well with Lola’s parents making sure that she is capable of caring for a pet before allowing her to have one. The book has a strong focus not only on Lola’s wishes for a pet but on the importance of allowing the pet to be happy as well.

Beardshaw’s illustrations are full of small details that add to the warm feel. There are drawings of cats around the rooms. Lola’s interest in cats is evident from her patterned pajamas to the barrette in her hair to the decorations in her room. As she practices to own a cat, the emphasis is on effort not perfection as Lola spills water. All of these elements add up to show children that they too can one day care for an animal in their own way.

A lovely book about pet ownership that shows the importance of giving a new pet space and time to find their own way. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.

 

A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young

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A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (InfoSoup)

When Lucy sends away for her 25 cent unicorn, she has big dreams of what it’s going to look like. It is sure to be blue with a pink tail and pink mane. She will ride on him and name him Sparkle. But when the box finally arrives, Sparkle is not what she expected at all. He does love cupcakes, but that’s not all he loves to eat. He also eats underwear, his flower necklace and the tutu Lucy puts on him. She can’t ride him at all and he doesn’t behave at show-and-tell. Lucy decides to return Sparkle, but the man can’t come and get him until the next day. In the meantime, Sparkle turns out to be scared of storms, butterflies love him, and he makes Lucy laugh. Perhaps it’s not important to be the perfect unicorn after all.

I must admit that I expected this book to be overly sweet, rather too sparkly and filled with too much princess and unicorn fluff. However, it’s not that kind of a picture book at all and I can’t resist a book that surprises me this much. Even better, it’s a unicorn book with a “unicorn” that farts, smells and has fleas. In fact, it’s a unicorn book about a goat and a girl who learns to love him. And in the end, I think readers are going to fall for Sparkle too and realize that the idealized unicorn may be very dull compared to one very active goat.

Young’s illustrations are very appealing. She does a mix of large format pages and then more detailed ones that show all of the trouble that Sparkle manages to get into. Lucy imagines herself as a princess, but throughout is clearly a colorful little girl who loves to pretend and imagine. Readers will immediately know that Sparkle is not a unicorn, but will love the fact that he’s a goat with a heart-shaped mark on his side.

A sparkling and clever story about new friends that defy expectations. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Kate Berube (InfoSoup)

Nick has two pet cats, Verne and Stevenson. They love doing things together, but the cats don’t appreciate it when Nick sits down to read. So Nick decides to teach them to read too. He starts with easy words, but the cats aren’t interested. He moves on to flash cards and soon Verne is paying attention, particularly when the words and books have to do with fish. Verne sounds out words and starts reading books on his own, he even gets his own library card. Stevenson doesn’t seem interested at all though. Verne and Nick have lots of fun acting out the stories that they are reading, though it would be more fun with Stevenson playing too. Then one day Nick discovers pictures that Stevenson has drawn of a pirate story. Could it be that Stevenson is interested after all?

Manley cleverly shows the process of learning to read in this picture book. Moving from simple words to sounds of letters to looking at books on your own and then reading entirely on your own. Delightfully, he also has Stevenson who is a reluctant reader. Stevenson though just needs someone to notice what he is passionate about and suddenly he too is interested in reading. It’s a smart way to show that we are all readers, some of us just need to not read about fish but about pirates!

The illustrations by Berube are friendly and fun. I love that Nick is a child of color and that it is not an “issue” in the book or even mentioned. One special part of the book is Stevenson’s expressions which are pure grumpiness and then can be seen later in the book as purely piratical.

A summery book about reading that will move nicely into the school year. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

 

Who Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane

Who Wants a Tortoise by Dave Keane

Who Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane, illustrated by KG Campbell (InfoSoup)

Released July 19, 2016.

A little girl has been longing for a puppy for her entire life. She has lists of dog names, read about training, and dreamed about life with a puppy. So when she opens the box with holes in the top on her birthday, she is dismayed to discover a tortoise inside. Her father had told her he was allergic to dogs, but she had still dreamed of having one. Now she has a cold-blooded reptile. She has no ideas for names for him, so she doesn’t name him anything. She figures out that he can’t play fetch, does not like rolling over, doesn’t do many tricks, and doesn’t get excited when she returns home. Slowly though, she does figure out things that she can do with a tortoise, including selling turns holding it and painting its nails. When she tries playing hide-and-seek though, she discovers that tortoises are far too good at it. Now she is the owner of a lost tortoise. How will she ever find him again?

Keane has written a witty story that shows the natural progression of falling in love with a different kind of pet. The protagonist tells the story in her own voice, filled with righteous indignation at being given a reptile and then turning to grudging respect for what it can do, and finally becoming an expert on tortoises. The characters throughout the book are thoroughly realistic and human, from the father who mentions his allergy to no avail to the little girl and her friends as they try to find the hiding tortoise. The reactions and emotions here are honest and true, creating a book that is funny and heartfelt.

Campbell’s illustrations add so much to this picture book. The little girl’s pigtails show her emotions just as much as her face. They are perky when hopeful, limp when lonely, and almost stiff when angry. Using plenty of white space, the illustrations show both a loving family and a warm community where people are willing to line up for lemonade and a tortoise.

A dynamite picture book that is ideal for pet-themed story times or to introduce a new pet to a classroom or family. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.

 

Ferocious Fluffity by Erica S. Perl

Ferocious Fluffity by Erica S Perl

Ferocious Fluffity by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Henry Cole

Released July 19, 2016.

The author and illustrator of Chicken Butt return with another uproariously funny picture book. Mr. Drake brings a new pet into his classroom. It’s a tiny hamster. They aren’t allowed to hold her, but one day when Mr. Drake is late, the children take her out of her cage. But Fluffity is not as sweet as she looks. She bites all of the children! Then she chases them down the hall and continues to bite them as they hide in the library. When Mr. Drake discovers them all, Fluffity bites him too and won’t let go. They finally get Fluffity back into her cage and figure out that she needs exercise and lots of things to chew on to be happiest. In fact, they do so well that Mr. Drake brings in a new pet for the classroom!

Now, I must admit that when I start a picture book and it is in rhyme I tend to worry and even shudder a bit. Here Perl handles her rhyme with panache, using it to up the frenzied action and to increase the humor as well. The rhyme adds a galloping pace to the book that is wonderful as well as making it a treat to read aloud. The humor is broad and never subtle, in other words perfect for small children to laugh right along with. It is also appreciated that in the end the students learn how to care for Fluffity rather than getting rid of the little nipper.

Cole’s illustrations add to the zany feel of the book. Just look into the eyes of Fluffity and you will know that something is about to go wrong. The ball of fur may be tiny, but her glare would have me hiding in a library too. Just like the writing, the illustrations are ideal for sharing out loud too with their bright colors, large format and action-filled images.

Sure to keep even the wiggliest preschooler listening, this picture book is a great finishing read for a story time welcoming children back to school. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.