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: Night Windows, by Ziggy Hanaor, illustrations by Aart-Jan Venema

Hanaor, Ziggy. Night Windows. Illus. by Aart-Jan Venema. Cicada. 2019. $16.95. unp. ISBN 978-1-908714-56-5. Ages 4-7. P9Q9

Lonely after his family’s move to a city, a boy seeks solace from what he perceives as an angry place by sitting outside his apartment building. At first, he thinks about running away but starts watching the people through the windows and sees “A writer, a cook, five kids/And – look! Here cats, a net/A sparkling chest, a girl who sews….” Each night he returns to his bench and sees more and more. His sojourn becomes less lonely as a cat perches on the back of the bench and the writer joins him to talk about his writer’s block. The boy’s surroundings become occupied by more people, and he ends up organizing a party. Highly detailed and quirky colorful illustrations come from the adventures of the illustrator from his everyday life in The Hague, Netherlands.

Verdict: Excellent pacing begins with a young person lost in new surroundings who makes a home for himself by observing and accepting the diversity of people around him. Following the action from one two-page spread to another can give hours of delight.

April 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The House of Lost and Found, by Martin Widmark, illustrated by Emilia Dziubak, translated by Polly Lawson

Widmark, Martin. The House of Lost and Found. Illus. by Emilia Dziubak. Trans. by Polly Lawson. Floris Books, 2018. $17.95. unp. ISBN 978-1-78250-542-6. Ages 6-9. P9Q9

Dark hues and shadows begin this story about Niles, an elderly man grieving in his old house after the death of his wife, Sara. His dreams of her in a field of poppies gives color to the book, but the story starts to brighten when a young boy knocks on his door and asks Niles to care for his flower while he is gone on vacation. The pot has no apparent plant, but Niles faithfully waters the dirt. The leaf that appears from Niles’ care inspires him to freshen his house, and the house comes to life as Niles continues to clean it. His cat, Johan Sebastian, returns to purr at Niles feet. When the boy returns, Niles goes out in the garden with him.

Verdict: The skillful shift of Niles’ grumpy comments to the pot moving to warmth effectively describes the change that can happen in people. This poignant story is enhanced by the rich deep colors of the mysterious house and the gradual disappearance of the man’s darkness. This Swedish import that came through Scotland gives an unusual and valuable perspective of loneliness in a children’s book because the pain is felt by an adult and not a child. A wonderful read-aloud and opening to discussion of friendship among generations.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Tiny King, by Taro Miura

Miura, Taro. The Tiny King. Candlewick Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7636-6687-3.$14.99. Ages 5-8 yrs. P8 Q8. 

Miura Tiny KingCollage art accompanies the tiny King’s story. He lives alone in a big castle until he meets a big princess who agrees to marry him. They have many children and the big empty castle is not so lonely any more.

April 2015 review by Patty Dodson.

[Editor’s note: Bold illustrations bring appeal to the story of a tiny king who is lonely until he meets a big princess and they have children–10 children.  This fairy tale from Japanese author Taro Miura incorporates concepts and counting from 1 to 10.  Reviewers have questioned the married and happily ever after message of the book, as well as the depiction of the family bathing together, but the boldly colored geometric illustrations have been received with overwhelming approval.]

Book review: The Storm Whale, by Benji Davies

Davies Storm WhaleDavies, Benji. The Storm Whale. Holt. 2013. $16.99. unp. 978-0-8050-9967-6. Ages 4-7:

In an isolated island home next to the ocean, Noi stays alone with six cats while his father works on a fishing boat. When the small boy finds a beached baby whale, he takes it home in his wagon and puts it in the bathtub. Finding Noi’s secret, the father understands that the boy is lonely but encourages Noi to accompany him to return the whale to deep water. The book is beautifully illustrated with charming caricatured drawings, but two of the messages might be inappropriate. First, although the father knows his son is lonely, he does nothing about solving the problem; and second, children should never be encouraged to remove beach creatures from their habitat, even though Noi’s actions are highly unlikely. P8Q5 December 2014 review by Nel Ward.