Tag Archives: cat

Staff Review — Cat Out of Hell

CatoutofHellCat Out Of Hell

Lynne Truss

Melville House

Available now

Who knows what really goes on in the minds of cats? Or librarians? Maybe things really are as they appear, but maybe not. What if cats had superpowers that they have been losing for hundreds of years, and they blamed us for the loss? How far would they go to get their powers back?

Reality exists for most of us as what we see, but perhaps — beneath the surface– there is more than meets the eye. We blithely go about our lives, oblivious to the dark forces that exist in the lives and minds of — cats. At least some of them.

In Cat Out Of Hell, well, the cat’s out of the bag. There’s murder, and devil worship, and secret manuscripts, and corrupt librarians. And cats.

Lynne Truss writes with a light tone that belies the death and destruction caused by felines. Reading Cat Out Of Hell was like being immersed in a Sherlock Holmes mystery with overtones of Jeremy Bushnell’s The Weirdness, and a disturbing little book called The Improbable Cat, by Allan Ahlberg. I enjoyed it immensely.

~ Lysbeth Abrams

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Staff Review: The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

FC9780385376525The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Dana Alison Levy

Random House

$15.99

Available July 22, 2014

It has to be said: think Penderwicks, with four brothers instead of sisters. But these brothers have two dads, so they’re all adopted. More importantly, each brother is a distinct character, and they’re all fiercely loyal to one another when they’re not biffing each another verbally in typically playful male competition. Sam, the 12-year-old, is anxious to be a good role model even as he risks peer ridicule for participating in the school musical. Jax is the athletic 10-year-old, always competing with Sam even as he seeks his older brother’s approval. Eli is also 10, deeply studious, but worried that his insistence on attending an expensive, demanding private school may be the wrong choice after all. Frog is six, funny, and eager to keep up with all the others. The two dads are less distinguishable, but highly functional as parents, laying out and maintaining “Fletcher Family Rules” of honor, fair play, and safety. The story follows the time honored setting of a school year, and the characters are strong enough that their daily adventures and concerns fit together as tightly and unexpectedly as a Chinese puzzle, albeit one held together with mud and sweaty socks. Within all this, the fact of same sex parents and racially varied children is simply part of the fabric, as natural – and special – as waffles and strawberries for breakfast. Among the many, many middle grade books that come out each year, it’s still a thrill to find one so well done that we know at once we can recommend it wholeheartedly for at least a generation to come.

~ Carol

 

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Morse Pond Reviews: To Be a Cat

9781442454057

To Be a Cat

Matt Haig

Stacy Curtis, illustrator

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

June 2013

$16.99

This is now one of my all-time favorite books! This book is a perfect twist on Freaky Friday! It is relatable to and easy to understand, as well as being funny and a little creepy. The main character Barney wishes he was a cat because he thinks it would be so much easer to be one. He thinks that he wouldn’t have to deal with his mean Principal Mrs. Whimpire and the school bully Gavin Needle. Little does he know, Mrs. Whimpire is a cat who turned into a human, and hates all humans especially little boys. Barney turns into a cat, and is soon being hunted down by Mrs. Whimpire’s minions (A.K.A. The Swipers), who have orders to destroy him. Will he turn back into a human, or will he get caught by The Swipers? This is a fantastic book! Read to find out!

Celia, 6th grade

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2012 Picks of the Year — Picture Books

9780763656010

Step Gently Out
By Frost, Helen
Candlewick Press (MA)
9780763656010 $15.99

Young children examine small worlds intently, sometimes frustrated by things too busy or tiny to see well. This quiet poem is illustrated with remarkable close-up photos of delicate insects on stems, leaves, flowers, and dewy twigs.  Back pages give additional information about the eleven different insects.

9781419701078

Get Dressed!
By Chwast, Seymour
ABRAMS
9781419701078 $12.95

New Yorker cartoonist Chwast provides plenty of flaps to unfold and lift. Most kids start with getting up and dressing in the morning, and end with pajamas and bed. But in between the book offers all kinds of fun prompts and attire: dragons, hiding in the jungle, cold weather, sand castles, making believe, rock star performing.

9781935954149

Happy
By Van Hout, Mies
Lemniscaat USA
9781935954149 $17.95

Once a child learns the basic nouns, verbs, “no!” and “please,” the way is cleared for expressing emotions. The more the emotions can be verbalized, the less they need to be acted out. Happy! is a series of colorful drawings, each of them of a fish that perfectly expresses a given emotion: happy, curious, nervous, brave, shy, surprised, and 14 others.

9780547610832

More
By Springman, I. C.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780547610832 $16.99

Inspired, clever, elaborate illustrations make this the perfect book for a bright child who may or may not be reading fluently.  Those sharp young eyes will detect the visual puns as a magpie collects compulsively until its excess brings down the entire overloaded nest.Luckily, the magpie has friends who help it downsize to the final pages: “Enough? Yes, enough.”

9781442450271

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
By Falconer, Ian
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781442450271 $17.99

Possibly the most amusing Olivia book yet: Olivia is having an identity crisis: what will make her special if everyone is a princess! Olivia decides she’s done, done, DONE with pink. She’s seeking a “more stark, modern style.” It involves lots of black jersey, a la Martha Graham. After considering several possibilities, Olivia arrives at her latest and most definitely appropriate persona.

9780061915161

Cat Tale
By Hall, Michael
Greenwillow Books
9780061915161 $16.99

Three cats, Lillian, Tilly, and William J., start on an outing. Word play is part of the adventure: “They flee a steer.” “They steer a plane.” “They plane a board.” “They board a train.” In the middle the cats become confused for a couple of pages, but the tail/tale homonym sets them back on track to a comfy ending.

9780811876896

MOMA Color Puzzles: 4 Double-Sided Puzzles
By Komagata, Katsumi
Chronicle Books 
9780811876896 $10.99

Four reversible puzzles offer hundreds of ways to re-combine the few pieces, to explore the visual impact of shading, line, and contrast. Created for the Museum of Modern Art.

9780062104182

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
By Willems, Mo
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
9780062104182 $17.99

Mo Willems is as irrepressible as ever. Three Dinosaurs , Papa, Mama, and “some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway” make a great show of setting out bowls of chocolate pudding, making their beds look comfy, and leaving the  doors open as they pretend to head out into the forest. Along comes Goldilocks, “a little girl who never listens to anyone or anything.” She ignores the many warning signs, and thing are looking ominous until she hears gloating outside the window and realizes she needs to scram.

9780316045476

The Monsters’ Monster
By McDonnell, Patrick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316045476 $16.99

Three little monsters, Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom (he has two heads) squabble over who’s the biggest, baddest monster of all. Finally they decide to pool their efforts to make a MONSTER monster, using “tape, tacks, staples, and glue, gunk, gauze, and gobs of goo, bolts, wire, and a smelly old shoe.” When the huge creation comes to life its first booming word words are “Dank you!” because he’s thankful to be alive. The little rascals chase along behind as he crashes through the walls, marches down the mountain to the bakery, nad buys jelly doughnuts. Everyone shares them happily on a beach, completely forgetting to be monsters.

9781596435490

Mousterpiece
By Zalben, Jane Breskin
Roaring Brook Press
9781596435490 $16.99

By age 6,7,8, many children have visited an art museum. Like Janson, the mouse who lives in a museum, they may resonate to certain artists. Janson paints herself again and again in the styles of Albers, Rousseau, Warhol, Seurat, Braque, Picasso and 16 other major artists. Eventually she is discovered, and given an exhibition of her own. The book is a great way to introduce the idea of different styles, and associate names with them.

9780803737129

Duck Sock Hop
By Kohuth, Jane
Dial Books
9780803737129 $16.99

Rhythm and bounce will capture everyone’s silly sense as the catchy rhyme rolls along. This is a wake-up-and-get-moving book, not a nighty-night one. Today’s children will need a little clarification from grandparents as to the meaning of “sock hop,” and that’s likely to lead to demonstrations and imitations — in other words, a party.

9781596437111

A Home for Bird
By Stead, Philip Christian
Roaring Brook Press
9781596437111 $16.99

Vernon the frog is pleased to find Bird, whom he welcomes as friend, although bird says nothing. Vernon introduces Bird  to his friends, but Bird says nothing. Vernon is concerned that Bird might be lost, so he sets out to find Bird’s home. After an arduous journey that tests Vernon’s determination, they stumble into a little house and Bird speaks one word at last: “Cuckoo!”

9781423145622

Otto the Book Bear
By Cleminson, Katie
Hyperion Books
9781423145622 $16.99

Otto is a bear who lives inside a book, and is always happiest when children read his book. He has a secret: sometimes he leaves his book and goes exploring. One day while he’s out, the family moves, taking his book but forgetting Otto! Otto makes a plan, packs a bag, and sets off on a new adventure. The world is a little larger than he had expected, and he’s becoming discouraged when he sees full of light and hope: a library! There he not only finds another book bear, but also, best of all, children reading.

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