Book review: Spot and Dot, by Henry Cole

Cole, Henry. Spot & Dot. Little Simon, 2019. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-5344-2555-2. Ages 4-8. P9Q9

Spot returns, this time to follow a lost dog through city streets and businesses while Spot’s and Dot’s youthful owners, a boy and a girl, post flyers with the hope of redeeming the missing pooch. The wordless book sports intricate, detailed crosshatch black and white drawings, sometimes on double-page spreads, which cause “readers” to find the two animals wending their way through places filled with objects, people, and other canines. In the happy ending, Spot and Dot, now friends, bound up to their persons and into their laps with a final touch to the two pairs looking out windows at each other.

Verdict: Fascinating, engrossing, fun-filled search-and-find viewing that ends with peace and security.

May 2020 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Max Attacks, by Kathi Appelt, pictures by Penelope Dullaghan

Appelt, Kathi. Max Attacks. Pictures by Penelope Dullaghan. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Simon & Schuster, 2019. $17.99. unp. ISBN 9781481451468. Ages 4-6. P9Q9

Digital acrylic and charcoal illustrations follow a “fierce” blue cat with black stripes as he dodges the families’ black and white spotted dog to attack everything in sight on his way to the fish bowl, including menacing dirty socks. He finally succeeds in knocking over a fish bowl before he concludes his attack at his “bowl of crunchies” before he takes a nap. Animated short rhyming lines use action verbs for Max’s adventures throughout the house to knock over vases, pull down curtains, and wreak more havoc.

Verdict: The white background for bold illustrations puts the focus on Max, and the painted block printing gives strength to the delightful antics in this great silly read-aloud. His running tally of accomplishments—“Socks, None, Max, Ninety-One—are combined with the swinging, bouncing rhymes as Max stays on the move.

May 2020 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: A New School For Charlie, by Courtney Dicmas

Dicmas, Courtney. A New School For Charlie. Child’s Play, 2020. $17.99. ISBN 9781786283429. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P7 Q7

Today is Charlie’s first day of school! He is so excited. Charlie loves everything about school especially making new friends. However, he soon realizes this school is different. It is full of cats! Will Charlie be able to make friends? The illustrations shows Charlie researching how to make new friends and his adventures along the way. Once Charlie finally makes friends, he remembers how it felt to be lonely and keeps his eyes out for others who are new. The oversized illustrations show the interaction between Charlie and his new classmates. The end pages show a yellow school bus with fall leaves trailing behind it.

Verdict: This animated picture book weaves in problem solving, growth mindset, compromise and perseverance. Charlie and the cats learn from each other. My favorite part is the ending when a new student sits on a buddy bench. Schools with buddy benches can use this book to teach the importance of making new friends and teaching empathy. I highly recommend it.

April 2020 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Tabby’s First Quest, by Mia Bell

Bell, Mia. Tabby’s First Quest. (Kitten Kingdom, book 1). Scholastic, 2019. $5.99. ISBN 9781338292343. 116 pages. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7  

Princess Tabby and her two brothers, Felix and Leo live in Mewtopia. Their parents, the King and Queen are practicing for the Golden Scroll Ceremony. When a messenger cat comes to take the Golden Scroll to the royal locksmith, Tabby feels that something is off. She and her brothers set off to investigate. Along the way, they meet rats named Parmesan, Brie and Chedd. Will Tabby be able to recover the Golden Scroll in time and find out the real reason the Golden Scroll was taken? The story takes place in the Kitten Kingdom and involves chaos, guards, evil rats, and unexpected twist and turns. Includes nine short chapters, medium sized text, and black and white illustrations.

Verdict: Tabby’s adventure will both entertain and keep the reader in suspense. This is a good read aloud for younger grades. It is fun, light and full of action that features heroism, teamwork and friendship.

May 2020 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Pretty Kitty, by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

Beaumont, Karen. Pretty Kitty. Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis. Henry Holt, 2018. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 978-0805092325. Ages 4-6. P9 Q9

This book involves an older single man and a fun story that includes a counting and picture book all in one. A lonely man at home sees one kitty on his front step. He exclaims how he doesn’t want a kitty, so it needs to go. Then, with fun illustrations, each day an additional kitty shows up… then another… then many more. The man exclaims on each page what they might mess up, or problems they would create. As the story draws to a close, the lonely man finds he is no longer lonely. The illustrations are full of color and movement, and are great fun.

VERDICT: Children and adults will love reading this one out loud together. One can’t help but smile with every turn of the page.

December 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: The Fast and the Furriest, by Deanna Kent, illustrated by Neil Hooson

Kent, Deanna. The Fast and the Furriest. Illustrated by Neil Hooson. (Snazzy Cat Capers, #2.) Imprint, 2019. $13.99. ISBN 9781250143471. 211 pages. Ages 7-10.  P7 Q7

Ophelia is a cat burglar who works for the FFBI. Cat burglars treat each heist as an opportunity to hone their skills. They return what they take. Ophelia’s archenemy is Pierre von Rascal of Thievesylvania. When Opelia is sent on a mission, Pierre and CCIA dogs are hot on her tail. To add more humor, a fish is Ophelia’s inventor and works with her on the mission. Full of cat puns and cat related words this adventure will be sure to entertain and engage readers. Graphic novel style illustrations are interspersed throughout the book, making this a great book for graphic novel enthusiasts to transition to novels. This is book 2 in the series, but can easily stand alone.

Verdict: If you have a reader who likes graphic novels and cats, they will enjoy this book. The balance of chapter book and graphic novel is perfect. I recommend this book.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Peg Up a Tree, by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson

Oxley, Jennifer and Billy Aronson. Peg Up a Tree. (Peg + Cat series.) Candlewick Entertainment, 2019. $14.99. ISBN 9781536209686. 31 pages.  Ages 4-6. P6 Q7

Peg has a problem! She is stuck in a tree, but Cat does not see her. While she is stuck, she plays with her yo-yo and hits Cat on the head. He tries to get her out with a ladder that he makes, only to find himself stuck up in the tree with Peg. Ramone comes to the rescue and describes how a ladder should be built. Can they work together to get Peg and Cat out of the tree? Typewriter style text with a nice amount of space between each word helps the reader read the book by themselves. This level one reader is based on the TV series Peg + Cat on PBS Kids. The illustrations of Cat + Peg and their adventure will keep readers engaged while giving them a sense of what is happening at the same time. This beginning chapter book is broken into three chapters.

Verdict: The style of writing is conducive to helping children read, however, this would not make a good read-a-loud since the sentences are a bit choppy. I recommend the book for emergent readers.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Hats Are Not for Cats!, by Jacqueline K. Rayner

Rayner, Jacqueline K. Hats Are Not for Cats! Clarion Books, 2019. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781328967190. Ages 3-6. P8 Q8

A smudge gray cat finds a brilliant red fez , but the shaggy dog in the checkered top hat claims that “Hats are not for cats,” and launches into a long lecture on the various kinds of hats cats should not wear.  Finally the cat has heard enough and knocks the dog’s hat off his head, then leads a torrent, a river, a parade of cats, each wearing a different kind of hat.  Faced with the dog’s sadness, the many cats in hats then declare that “hats are for everyone”!

Verdict: Simple, realistic illustrations of dogs and cats wearing many, many styles of hats accompany a litany of hat styles that make this a pleasant read-aloud book, one for sharing over and over.  Recommended for preschool- through kindergarten-aged children and their adults as well as for public library collections.

December 2019 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: It’s Me, by Jim Benton

Benton, Jim. It’s Me. (Catwad series, book 1). Graphix, 2019. $8.99. ISBN 9781338326024. 125 Pages. Ages 8-12. P8 Q7

Blumrp, an enthusiastic cat, annoys a cranky Catwad in this collection of short comic stories. Blumrp is overly energetic and sees the positive in everything. Catwad is like Grumpy Cat. When Blumrp asks Catwad if he likes him better than pizza, if it was covered in poison and toenails? Catwad replies that he guesses he would like him more. Blumrp says “OMG you are my best friend too!” Fast paced, brightly colored cartoons on glossy paper will keep the reader engaged. Includes a special preview of Catwad #2, which came out in September. Book three is scheduled to be come out in April 2020.

Verdict: Humorous, funny, where the cats feed off each other in their dialogue. The humor is zany and slapstick. I found myself laughing out loud while I read the comics. The perfect choice for reluctant readers. While one may think of comics being for young readers, this comic book is for a bit older reader due to its sarcastic humor. If you want to laugh, I recommend this comic.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Vincent Comes Home, by Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley

Bagley, Jessixa, and Aaron Bagley. Vincent Comes Home. Roaring Book Press, 2018. 32 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781626727809. Ages 4 and up. P8Q8

Vincent is a cat who lives on a cargo ship. He has travelled all over the world with the crew and his master. He begins to hear about “home” and crew looking forward to going to this place called home. Vincent finally gets off the ship and follows them home, thinking it was a special town or place. Finally, his master tells him it is time to go home… and Vincent learns the true meaning of the word. The illustrations are quite fun- seaports and cities and maps of the world.

VERDICT- I very much enjoyed this book. Of course, the true meaning of ‘home’ was well illustrated, but the drawings were also full of great things to explore. It is light and a fun addition to picture books.

June 2019 review by Lynne Wright.