Here Comes Valentine Cat and Love, Splat

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Here Comes Valentine Cat

Deborah Underwood
Pictures by Claudia Rueda
Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2016

From the dust jacket, “Cat is no fan of Valentine’s Day, especially when it brings a new dog to the neighborhood. (illustration of a dog bone hitting Cat’s head) Ouch, I’m sorry, Cat. You want to teach Dog a lesson? Well, don’t be too hasty. On Valentine’s Day, even a crabby cat can have a Change of Heart.”

Another installment in the popular (to me) Here Comes Cat books! Previous Cat books I’ve reviewed are Here Comes Easter Cat, Here Comes Tooth Fairy Cat, and Here Comes Santa Cat (click on the names to be taken to my review!!). In these books Cat is very cranky and he communicates with the reader by holding up signs and accurate facial expressions. The reader and Cat talk about what’s going on – and in this case, its Valentine’s Day.

Cat doesn’t like Valentine’s Day – he thinks it’s too mushy and adding insult to injury, a new Dog has moved next door and is throwing things over the fence at Cat. Cat wants to send Dog off in a rocket but the reader persuades Cat to see things from Dog’s point of view.

This book is so cute and funny. This is a great read aloud book or perfect for early readers. Kittens will delight in Cat’s antics and maybe even learn a little kindness along the way!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws because I love Cat!!!!!

Reviewer: simon-locSimon.

Love, Splat

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Love, Splat

Rob Scotton
Harper
HarperCollinsPublishers, 2008

From the back of the book, “It’s Valentine’s Day and Splat has a special valentine for a certain someone in his class. Her name is Kitten, and Splat likes her even more than fish sticks and ice cream. But Kitten doesn’t seem to like him at all. And then there’s Splat’s rival, Spike, who also likes Kitten. Will Splat’s heartfelt valentine win Kitten’s paw in the end?”

I love Splat! And not just because he’s a black cat like me! It’s because he get’s in scrapes and worries about stuff and everything always comes out fine. He’s also very funny! This is a perfect book to read to your Valentine and tell him/her just how much you like them!!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because *SPOILER ALERT* Splat gets the girl!!

Reviewer: simon-locSimon (again!)

The Memory Box

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The Memory Box
A Book About Grief

Joanna Rowland
Illustrations by Thea Baker
Sparkhouse Family, 2017

From the back of the book, “From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together. The unique point of view allows the reader to imagine the loss of any they have loved a friend, family member, or even a pet.”

I found this touching book to be both comforting and liberating on the sensitive subject of grief. It gives a voice to kittens (and maybe even adults) who don’t have the words for what they’re feeling. “…I can never have another you. I miss you. … Because I’m scared I’ll forget you.” If you, your kittens or someone you know is in the midst of grief or suffering from a loss that lingers from before, this book will help you think about it and talk about it.

The memory box idea is something our human has used before. She has a box for some of the ones who have gone before. Sometimes it takes a while before she is able to complete a box just like it takes time to work through grief; it’s important not to force the process, only to keep moving forward. Getting stuck in grief is just as bad as ignoring it completely.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for approaching a very sensitive topic with a delicate honesty.

Reviewer: simon-locSimon

Animalia

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Animalia

Graeme Base
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 1987, 2012

From the dust jacket, “Celebrate 25 years of this classic alphabet book with this special silver-anniversary edition! More than three million copies of Animalia have been sold worldwide, making Graeme Base’s amazing alliterative alphabet book one of the most beloved titles of the past quarter century! Animalia’s incredible imaginary world intrigues all readers, whether or not they know their ABCs.

“Each page includes hidden objects and ideas: start with “A is for An Armoured Armadillo Avoided an Angry Alligator” and you’ll find aprons, ants, aces, Atom-brand anchovies, and much more. The rest of the alphabet is just as fun!”

This is really a fun and challenging book. You can look for a long time on each page and still see new stuff. There’s also a bit of “Where’s Waldo” with the young boy at the beginning of the book hidden on every letter illustration. Graeme Base is an amazing artist – the amount of detail is, well, amazing! I can’t wait to check out his other books!

Strangely, the book was challenged at a school library in Texas for violence and horror, and at Storm Lake Public Library (IA) in 1992 when “two citizens discovered ‘satanic symbols’ and offensive images inside the book’s artwork.”

As we were unable to find evidence of violence and horror, I’ve included 2 images that might be borderline for some readers: “Horrible hairy hogs hurrying homeward on heavily harnessed horses” and “Kid Kookaburra and Kelly Kangaroo kidnapping Kitty Koala.” As for the other complaint of satanic symbols and offensive images, we found a zodiac calendar on the letter ‘Z’ page; a yin and yang symbol on the ‘Y’ page; a witch on the ‘W’ page; a vampire, a voodoo doll and a bottle of vermouth on the ‘V’ page – shall we go on? Maybe it was the Soviet flag or the swastika that was on the ‘S’ page that offended. As with any thing, if you’re looking for stuff to be offended by, you will most definitely find it. We find it better to let each reader decide for themselves and no one else!

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws for a totally imaginative book with out-of-this-world illustrations. Not to be missed and never duplicated!!

Reviewers:

 

simon-loc   loc jack

Simon & Jack

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The Five Chinese Brothers

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The Five Chinese Brothers

Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese
Coward-McCann, Inc., 1938, 1965

Summary: “Five brothers who look just alike outwit the executioner by using their extraordinary individual qualities.”

In the same vein as the pre-Disney-sanitized versions of Grimm’s fairy tales were full of death and triumph, this old Chinese tall tale weaves a fantastic story with a foolish boy losing his life and four brothers who prevent the fifth brother from being executed for murder. There’s a moral lesson to this tale – one that teaches kittens to listen to adults to stay safe (and alive!) and one that teaches adults to not go to extreme measures to prove a point.

Of course this book has been challenged – any time there’s a book with one view there’s a ton more with opposite views. Some readers have taken exception to the illustrations of the book:

The Five Chinese Brothers was banned when parents expressed concern at the Salem Public Library that the book’s “racial stereotypes were demeaning to Chinese People (1990).” The book was also challenged in a California grade school because “it contains descriptions of violent plots to execute five brothers (1998).”” And another blogger had this to say, “Chinese faces carry a yellow-orange hue; the eyes are often reduced to stereotypical slits.  There has been some discussion of the book as an endorsement of capital punishment and a celebration of violence in general.”

Nevermind this classic of children’s literature was published in 1938 and may have been reflecting the general views of the day. Even if those views are not acceptable by today’s standards (i.e., obsessive adherence to political correctness), perhaps the book should be read as a cultural example of ‘days gone by’ and past thoughts and interpretations taken into consideration to be learned from not banned.

Rating 3 out of 5 paws because although it is a classic, we don’t care for stories about cheating and executions.

As we’ve stated before, The Library doesn’t like all banned books and wouldn’t read them – except for the fact that they’ve been banned or challenged. We read to protest censorship and to give a voice to those beleaguered books & authors.

Reviewer: loc jackJack

The Bad Guys

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The Bad Guys

Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2017

From the back of the book, “The Bad Guys…They’re scary and dangerous and well … just BAD. But these guys want to be HEROES. And they’re going to prove it by breaking every last dog out of the pound. The Bad Guys are ready to do some good … whether you want them to or not!”

Mr. Wolf decides he’s tired of being a bad guy so he finds some very reluctant recruits to help him become one of the ‘good guys’. Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Piranha are very skeptical about being ‘good guys’ but they give it a go with hilarious results! This graphic novel for youngsters is laugh out loud, roll on the floor funny! The bit with setting the dogs free was funny, but, the best part was the gang trying to rescue a kitten in a tree! Can you imagine being stuck in a tree and seeing a wolf, shark, snake and a piranha come to your rescue? All the kitten does is SCREAM!!!!! It’s just too funny!!! Your kittens will love reading this book to themselves or to their younger siblings. Check it out today and enjoy!!!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for super laugh out loud funnies!!

Rating: peggysue-locPeggySue