Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House

skippyjon jones in the dog house a

Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House

Judy Schachner
Dutton Children’s Books, 2005

From the dust jacket, “Skippyjon Jones is a rambunctious kitty boy with very large ears and a gigantico imagination to match. He dreams of becoming El Skippito, his Zorro-like alter ego, who is really a Chihuahua. Skippito gets to speak with a Spanish accent; he gets to wear a mask and cape. And he gets to help out his Chihuahua friends down in Old Mexico by driving a scary monster called the big Bobble-ito out of their doghouse.

“The tale of how Skippito chills the Chihuahuas and banishes the Bobble-ito will create more crazy-loco and loving fans for this irrepressible feline folk hero who has stolen the hearts of readers young and old. For story time or anytime—mucho fun!!!!”

Bad Skippyjon!!! His momma catches him doing beautiful artwork all over the freshly painted walls of the hallway and gets a time-out! But that doesn’t deter our kitty boy! Sending him to his room is the best thing ever for him because he gets to visit his amigos, Los Chimichangos!

You all know how much the LoC LOVES Skippyjon Jones. Just thinking of him makes us smile and reading his books is cause for laughing out loud. In the Dog House is an earlier book that our library didn’t have; since it was still in print, we asked if they would order it and they said yes!!!!

There’s nothing negative to say about the book—no cautions of any sort – El Skippito is a winner for us – always 5 paws – and one of the occasional books we seriously thinking about “losing” (i.e., not returning to the library) but we always turn it in! If your library has them, check them out – especially if you need a smile in your day!!!

Rating: 5 paws out of 5, because it is Skippyjon, after all!!!

Reviewer:

simon-loc

Simon

 

By Familiar Means

by familiar means

By Familiar Means
A Witch’s Cat Mystery (Bk 2)

Delia James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2016

Rom the back of the book: “After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by a furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth and her old coven for the first time in decades.

“But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint murals for a new coffee shop, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Annabelle and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

“Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. When her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alistair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer.”

With the second installment of this mystery series, I have been thoroughly won over by the author. The author constructed another excellent mystery and I truly had no idea who was the murderer until the ‘Big Reveal’. There were so many good suspects, so many threads to the mystery, I was completely mystified! I liked how the author continued Annabelle’s exploration into witchcraft – she approaches it with trepidation and a healthy dose of respect. Of course, my favorite character is Alistair – I love how he can appear and disappear at will; I wish I had the same skill! I would pop in at mom’s work every now and then just to surprise her!!

As a cozy mystery, the murder takes place way off stage and Annabelle is threatened with violence a couple of times. We meet a different policeman – who is thoroughly obnoxious and the subject of civil disobedience and drug use (pot) is brought up by a “hippie-type” couple. There’s also a budding romance which may evolve over time, but nothing untoward in that department takes place. This is a nice PG-rating-type book, that if you don’t mind reading a mystery with witches and magic, that is easy to enjoy.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because it kept me guessing throughout the book, and that’s my favorite kind of mystery!! Book 3 will be out soon and I can’t wait!!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

 

The Rabbits’ Wedding

the rabbits wedding a

The Rabbits’ Wedding

Story and Pictures by Garth Williams
Harper & Row Publishers, 1958, 1990

From the dust jacket, “Two little rabbits, one white and the other black, played together happily in the forest. But in between the games of Hop, Skip and Jump Me and Race around the Blackberry Bush the black rabbit stopped and signed, “I’m just thinking,” he would say, when the white rabbit asked him what was the matter. …”

Totally cute story of two bunnies who are friends and each has a secret crush on the other. When they both realize this, they decide to get married and all their forest friends are invited. The illustrations are charming and colored in muted tones of green and yellow, with the black and white bunnies. A perfect little picture book for kittens – especially the ones who love rabbits and romantic stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because who doesn’t love a wedding!?!

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

Why this book was challenged and then banned (info from Wikipedia):  “The Rabbits’ Wedding was published on April 30, 1958, and depicted the love affair and wedding of two bunnies, one white and one black.

“The book’s publication led to controversy in the state of Alabama in 1959: the local White Citizens Council of Montgomery, Alabama, attacked the book which, they said, promoted interracial marriage in defiance of the laws against miscegenation. Against such attacks, the book found an advocate in Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Service Division, whose job it was to provide libraries throughout the state with the books they requested.

“Representative E. O. Eddins of Marengo County, Alabama, together with the White Citizen’s Council, led the battle against Williams’ book, and suggested Reed “put stock in racial incorporation” and “This book and many others should be taken off the shelves and burned.” As a result, the library system banned the book from all libraries in Alabama.

“Reed (who said she enjoyed the book) complied to the extent that she moved it away from general circulation and instead put it on reserve, available upon request; this made the book still accessible to local librarians and thus was not a ban of the book: “We have had difficulty with the book, but we have not lost our integrity”. Before the year was over segregationists again found fault with Reed, who distributed a reading list that included various controversial titles including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

“During an interview with The New York Times in 1959, Garth Williams said, “[The Rabbits’ Wedding] was not written for adults who will not understand it, because it is only about a soft, furry love and has no hidden messages of hate.” Williams denied that his story, intended for children ages 3 to 7, was a purposeful anecdote of racial integration. “I was completely unaware that animals with white furs, such as white polar bears and white dogs and white rabbits, were considered blood relations of white human beings,” Williams commented. Williams further explained to The New York Times: “I was only aware that a white horse next to a black horse looks very picturesque—and my rabbits were inspired by early Chinese paintings of black and white horses in misty landscapes.”

 

 

A Familiar Tail

a familiar tail

A Familiar Tail
A Witch’s Cat Mystery #1

Delia James
Obsidian, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2016

From the back of the book: “Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alistair and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

“Suddenly saddled with a witch’s wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town….

“Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her, rather than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.”

Wow! I enjoyed this book so much I read it straight through in one day! It’s always exciting to start a new book, especially when the book is a new series and the author has to do a lot of world-building. Love it! Portsmouth, New Hampshire – never been there, by the way – is wonderfully described – I felt I was there amongst the gardens, old shops and cottages and fancy houses. And of course, the star of the book is Alistair, a lovely gray cat who is magical and helps Annabelle solve the mystery – actually, he knows what’s really going on, but you know humans. They are inept at discerning our obvious clues so it takes his new person the whole book to figure it out.

Speaking of which, the mystery was well done – I didn’t figure out who the culprit was, nor any clue as to why, until it was revealed towards the end of the book. I hope the follow-up books are just as well done as this one; I’m seriously looking forward to them!!! The book is perfect reading for any mystery lover of any age – as long as you don’t mind practicing witches!

Rating: 4 ½ paws out of 5 – my highest rating, without it being a 5-paw rating, ever! Why 4 ½ and not 5? Well, while the story was fabulous, I’m not likely to read it again and there was no real emotional investment on my part which is the hallmark of a 5 paw book!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

 

Crow Boy

crow boy

Crow Boy

Taro Yashima
Viking, 1955, 1983

From the dust jacket, “Chibi has been an outcast since that frightening first day of school when he hid under the schoolhouse. Afraid of the teacher and unable make any friends, Chibi passes his free time along—alone at study time, alone at playtime, always a “forlorn little tag-along.” But when Mr. Isobe arrives, the teacher sees things in Chibi that no one else has ever noticed….

 

Chibi is a little boy who is bullied and ignored by kids his own age. He grows from the first year of school to the final 6th year and never makes a childhood friend. But he seems happy with himself and in his final school year he blossoms under the attention of a caring teacher. Even his fellow classmates admit their wrong in how they treated him.

The lessons in acceptance and tolerance of those who don’t follow the main stream is subtle but clear. It would be nice to think that, like in the book, the bullies of our lives would come to the realization that every cat and kitten are important – regardless of who they are or what they look like. The illustrations are colorful and crudely drawn. I don’t mind this type of illustration every once in a while, but I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it; it’s too abstract for my tastes. But don’t let the illustrations keep you from reading this book to yourself and your kittens. We all need a lesson in acceptance – it seems to be a skill lacking in many toms, queens and kittens of all ages.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the positive ending to a potentially very sad story of bullying.

For banned/challenged book information, please scroll past the illustrations!

 

This book was challenged by a school board member in Queens (NY) in 1994 because it “denigrates white American culture, promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation.” The rest of the school board voted to retain the book.

So…this is a book written and illustrated by a Japanese writer/artist, it’s setting an unnamed village in rural Japan, peopled only by Japanese – and it denigrates American white culture? Promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation? Really? Was the American school board member so egotistical that he (or she) felt the American white culture is so superior to anything else in the world that all other cultures pale by comparison? Thank the Lord for the other board members who voted to retain this book. Were they not more broadly minded, this precious story would’ve been consigned to the book graveyard.

I really try to stay neutral on the subject of banning/challenging books in reviewing them, but some charges are just too ludicrous not to speak up.

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian