Micro Review: Some Cat! by Mary Casanova and Ard Hoyt

 

Title: Some Cat!

Author: Mary Casanova

Illustrator: Ard Hoyt

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Violet has always imagined ruling a kingdom with sharp claws and velvet paws, so when she is adopted and goes to live with two dogs, she immediately takes over with a Meowww! Hisssss! and Spat! Poor George and Zippity try to befriend Violet, but they get nowhere. One afternoon, while her new family is out fishing, Violet is awakened by some stray dogs who chase poor Violet into a corner. Luckily, George and Zippity arrive home just in time to help.

Review:

I love Ard Hoyt’s art, and I am now a rabid fan.  Some Cat! revisits George and Zippity from Some Dog!, introducing Violet, a homeless cat, to the family.  I love the humans in both of these books.  They are patient and loving to their pets, willing to watch from the sidelines as their new family member tries to find a place for herself.  The problem is, Violet isn’t easy to get along with, and she doesn’t make things easy for herself.  She, like most cats, believes that she is royalty, and instead of trying to make friends with George and Zippity, she attempts to take charge – of everything.   She bullies her new animal companions, stealing their toys, food, and favorite sleeping spots.  She hisses at them, and she swats at them with her velvet paws, claws extended.  She is so NOT nice!  When a pack of dogs attack her, though, it is George and Yippity to the rescue.  Will Violet finally learn to play well with others?

This is a delightful story, with wonderful prose and charming illustrations that perfectly capture the mood and action of the book.  Some Cat! is sure to enchant animal lovers both young and old.

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by publisher

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Cheap eReads – Who Let the Dogs Out?

Here are some YA and MG Kindle books featuring dogs, all priced at below 5 bucks! Click on the title to order. 

 

Boys Are Dogs (Annabelle Unleashed)  by Leslie Margolis (.99)

Middle-school boys act like wild animals. 
That’s what Annabelle discovers on her first day in her brand-new life. Birchwood Middle School is totally different from her old all-girls elementary. In fact, lots of things in Annabelle’s life are totally different now that she’s back from summer camp. There’s mom’s new boyfriend, a new house, new friends—even a new puppy that likes to chew on Annabelle’s clothes. Well, at least the puppy comes with a leash and a training manual! If only she could say the same for the boys . . .
Featuring Annabelle’s hilarious take on friendship, boys, and her all-new life, this novel / survival guide perfectly captures the joy—and agony—of junior high school. And it might just teach you how to tame the wildest beast of all, the teenage boy.

 

What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld ($1.99)

Ever since her police officer father was killed a few months ago, Grace Abernathy hasn’t wanted to do much of anything. She’s pulled away from her friends, her grades are plummeting . . . it’s a problem. The last thing Grace wants is to be dragged into her older sister Regan’s plan to train a shelter dog as a service dog. But Grace has no idea how involved she’ll get-especially when a mangy mutt named Rex starts talking to her. Has Grace gone off the deep end? Or might this dog be something really special-an angel? A spirit? Either way, he is exactly the therapy that Grace needs.

Me & Jack  by Danette Haworth ($1.99)

Joshua Reed is used to moving around since his dad became an Army recruiter and the Vietnam War broke out. But their newest home, in the mountains of Pennsylvania, feels special somehow. Josh has started to make a new friend, his dad has finally allowed him to get a dog, and Jack-with his strange glowing ears and the way he seems to understand Josh’s feelings-is like no other dog Josh has ever seen. But in Vietnam-era America, conflict is never far away-even on the homefront. When a local boy is killed overseas, the town turns on the new army recruiter. And when a few late-night disturbances all point to Jack, it will be up to Josh to fight for his dog, his family, and his new home.

Dogs of the Drowned City #1: The Storm   by Dayna Lorentz  ($4.61)

Warriors and Guardians of Ga’Hoole fans have a new animal adventure to sink their teeth into!A terrible storm — and the beginning of a thrilling new animal adventure trilogy!When a hurricane forces his family to evacuate without him, Shep the German sheperd is confused. Where is his boy? Will he ever return? And what will Shep do in the meantime, now that the extra bowls of food — not to mention all those tasty things he found in the big cold box — are gone? Then another dog shows up at Shep’s window and convinces him to escape. There’s food outside, and a whole empty city to explore. Shep just wants to go home … but the adventure of a lifetime is just beginning.

The Puppy Place #1: Goldie by Ellen Miles ($3.82)

Welcome to the Puppy Place! This new Little Apple series stars a lovable new puppy in every book! And it’s Charles and Lizzie Peterson’s job to find every puppy the perfect home.
Charles and Lizzie Peterson love puppies. They want a puppy of their own more than just about anything. They know dogs are a lot of work. But their mom still doesn’t think their family is ready for a puppy.

Then, Goldie arrives. She is a sweet golden retriever that needs a home. Goldie is very young. She doesn’t know how to be a good puppy yet. Will Charles and Lizzie be able to help her?

Micro Review–Dog in Charge by K L Going and Dan Santat

 

 

 

 

Title:  Dog in Charge

Author: K L Going

Illustrator: Dan Santat

Publisher:  Dial

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When the going gets tough, Dog . . . takes a nap

Dog can Sit.

He can Stay.

He can even Dance.

But when he’s in charge, can he keep the cats in line?

All one, two, three, four, five of them?

With slapstick silliness and utterly earnest charm, Dog will quickly wiggle his way into preschoolers’ hearts.

,

Review:

This is one of the best picture books that I have ever read! It is so cute!!  It even had an unsuspected twist that brought a huge smile to my face.  Poor Dog is left in charge when his people have to go out.  He is left in charge of five naughty cats.  The cats, while not devious, love to play, and Dog is having a hard time keeping tabs on all one, two, three, four, five of them.  When the tensions run the highest, and the house couldn’t get any messier, Dog succumbs to a nap to refresh himself, allowing the cats to save the day.  The cats all love Dog, which made me love them. 

If you have young readers at home, this is a fun book with big, bold illustrations that is sure to please. Even if you don’t have young readers, sneak Dog in Charge home from the library for a quick, delightful read.

Grade:  A

Review copy obtained from my local library

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Cover Shot! Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I probably read more picture books than most adults should, but I can’t help myself.  There is so much energy and depth in a good picture book.  One of my favorites so far has been How Rocket Learned to Read.  I am a sucker for the cuteness, and how can you resist the sense of delight when Rocket did, finally, learn how to connect those confusing lines and make meaningful words?  The art is adorable, too.  When I saw that Rocket will be returning for another adventure, Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills was immediately placed on my wish list.  In stores July 2012.

 

This irresistible sequel to the New York Times bestselling How Rocket Learned to Read is "a perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers," according to a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story. This book is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians.

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Review and Giveaway: Horseplay! by Karma Wilson & Jim McMullan

 

Title: Horseplay!

Author:  Karma Wilson

Illustrator: Jim McMullan

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

 

Review:

Poor Farmer is confused.  His horses are so exhausted that they sleep the day away.  Farmer  knows that they aren’t working that hard, so he’s worried that something is wrong with them.  One night, he hides behind a hay bale and he catches them in the act!  What is going on at night? Horseplay!! Lots and lots of horseplay!  These silly horses stay up all night long goofing off, and that leaves them much too tired to work. 

This is a pretty funny picture book.  The horses keep finding ways to outwit Farmer and continue to have their fun.  That’s a remarkable accomplishment since horses have brains the size of a walnut.  Farmer gets mighty worked up each time he catches his horses being naughty, and the colorful art captures his frustration with a great deal of humor.  The illustrations are cartoony and fit well with the lighthearted tone of the book. 

GIVEAWAY!

Little Brown and Company has a copy of Horseplay! for one lucky reader.  Not sure if you want to enter?  Here are some sample pages from Horseplay!  Look at those exhausted ponies!  Look at that frustrated Farmer!

I love this one!  Farmer has been outwitted by the sly ponies!

 

Fill out the widget below to enter for your chance to win a finished copy of Horseplay!  I want a young reader to enjoy this book, so entering is easy!  Only two entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review and Giveaway: Red Knit Hat Girl by Naoko Stoop

 

Title: Red Knit Cap Girl

Author: Naoko Stoop

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Red Knit Cap Girl is a little girl with a big dream — to meet the Moon.

Red Knit Cap Girl lives with her animal friends in an enchanted forest. There is so much to see and do, but more than anything Red Knit Cap Girl wishes she could talk to the Moon. Join Red Knit Cap Girl and her forest friends on a journey of curiosity, imagination, and joy as they search for a way to meet the Moon.

Gorgeously illustrated on wood grain, Red Knit Cap Girl’s curiosity, imagination, and joy will captivate the hearts of readers young and old as her journey offers a gentle reminder to appreciate the beauty of the natural world around us.

Review:

Red Knit Cap Girl is the story of a girl who longs to talk to the moon.  After many failed attempts, she asks Mr Owl how to reach the moon.  By following his advice, she throws a party with her animal friends in honor of the moon.  Gentle and quiet, the book shows that anything can be accomplished once you set your mind to it.  With help from her forest friends, Red Knit Cap Girl discovers a way to finally make her dream come true.

I liked the quiet tone of Red Knit Cap Girl, and thought the soft illustrations fit the story perfectly.  The animals don’t have a lot of distracting detail, but instead are painted with rounded edges.  The shading for the animals is delicate, and the backgrounds all feel textured, which gives the paintings a great deal of depth.  The artist created her paintings on plywood, and each page has a unique backdrop for the story.  I thought the illustrations were cute, and Red Knit Cap Girl and her acorn shaped head are adorable.

GIVEAWAY!

Little Brown and Company has a copy of Red Knit Hat Girl for one lucky reader.  Not sure if you want to enter?  Here are some sample pages from Red Knit Hat Girl!  The animals are super cute! 

 

I love how her knit hat looks like an acorn!

Fill out the widget below to enter for your chance to win a finished copy of Red Knit Hat Girl!  I want a young reader to enjoy this book, so entering is easy!  What are you waiting for?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Interview with Jackie Bouchard, Author of What The Dog Ate

Jackie Bouchard is the author of What the Dog Ate, a story about a woman, her dog, and her quest for happiness.  Jackie dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her book. Check out what she has to say.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jackie Bouchard] I love dogs, books, movies, laughter, silliness, fellow nerdy people, chocolate and margaritas. I don’t like mean folks or Brussels sprouts.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about What The Dog Ate?

[Jackie Bouchard] It’s about a woman (Maggie Baxter) whose world gets upended when she finds out her dog ate a pair of panties that aren’t hers. Maggie’s an overly analytical meticulous planner, and when her husband leaves her all her life plans dissolve. She’s got no Plan B, so she sets out on a quest for what I call “tail-wagging joy” using her chocolate Lab, Kona, as her guide. When she starts over-analyzing things, she asks herself: What would Kona do?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jackie Bouchard] The concept came from an episode of “Emergency Vet” that my sister had seen. They dedicated a whole episode to things the vets had pulled out of dogs’ stomachs. That got me thinking, “What if they pulled something that was evidence of some kind of wrong-doing out of dog?” I started to wonder what that might be and how that might happen. That’s when I got the idea for the panties! As for Maggie, she’s a blend of my husband and me—she’s got his basic job/work ethic and my habit of being a total rule-follower.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Jackie Bouchard] The most challenging aspect for me with this particular book was making it as funny as possible. There were parts where my agent would send notes like, “Make it funnier here.” And I’d think, “Um, okay… yeah, like that’s easy!” But I’d let stuff sort of ferment (I guess that’s the best word for it) and sometimes in the middle of the night I’d wake up with an idea of how to make something funnier. I kept pen and paper by the bed and would write using my chest as a table as I lay there in the dark. I would sometimes wake up with pen marks on my t-shirt and notes that I could barely read.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Maggie?

[Jackie Bouchard] Rule-obsessed, conscientious, and tender-hearted.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Kona would never eat?

[Jackie Bouchard] That’s a short list: the sofa (only because he knows he would get in trouble), anything metal (I actually know dogs that have eaten metallic things, silly pooches, but Kona doesn’t have a taste for that) and… gosh, that’s it. Turns out there are only two things he wouldn’t eat.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Maggie’s single most prized possession?

[Jackie Bouchard] Kona’s collar. Maggie panics a little when she allows herself to think about the fact that someday Kona won’t be there. But she’ll always have his collar, and someday when that horrible day comes when they have to be separated for a while, she’ll keep his collar next to her bed as a reminder of all the things he taught her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jackie Bouchard] I get ideas from lots of different places, from books/shows/movies, to nature, to the news. I like to overhear tiny snippets of strangers’ conversations and try to imagine the back story of what they’re talking about or think about what will happen next. (I guess that’s called eavesdropping…) I like to pay attention to what makes people laugh.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jackie Bouchard] I try to jot down ideas wherever and whenever, but if I’m going to seriously sit down and write for a period of time, I need: my laptop (I’m not much of a notebook writer – I have the most awful handwriting!), almost total quiet, and an ergonomic chair. (That last one makes me sound like an old lady, but I gave myself a bummer of an overuse injury in my neck/back writing cross-legged on my sofa, literally using my laptop on my lap. So, now I try to always be at my desk!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jackie Bouchard] That is actually a hard question because ever since I started writing about 6 years ago, I read so much more critically now. It’s difficult to read without my writer’s hat on, so I get caught up in wondering about choices the author made or things I wish I’d written or things that bother me. But if I had to pick one, I’d say “The Help,” even though it’s been a little while since I read it. The tension she built up in the story was amazing and the characters were really well developed. I was transported enough that I think my writer’s hat actually fell off. I did wonder about that pie though… Couldn’t Hilly taste that secret ingredient? Maybe there was only a little bit… (Am I the only one that thinks of these things? Oh, and Kona would have totally eaten that pie. But that would have been bad since dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jackie Bouchard] I’ve loved to read my whole life, from kindergarten on, so there were many books I loved as a kid, but the one that I distinctly remember reading as a teenager–and then emerging from this fog because I couldn’t put it down the whole day–was Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” Oh, that Mrs. Danvers! Evil, she was! Gave myself a terrible headache that day because I wouldn’t even get up to get something to drink.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jackie Bouchard] I love to read, watch movies, hang out with my hubby, take my dog for walks at the beach, go hiking, or do other creative things like drawing on my iPad or "felting" animals (mostly dogs!) out of wool. Felting is something my sister and I recently got into. You basically take this special wool, shape it, and then stab it repeatedly with a special needle. That’s pretty much it. It’s a strange thing, but the animals come out so cute! (As long as you don’t stab your fingers and bleed on them.) Oh, I’m also very addicted to professional cycling and I get a little nutty (nuttier?) in July each year during the three weeks of the Tour de France.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jackie Bouchard] Oh, gosh – I’m all over the place. Here’s a list:

My web site: www.jackiebouchard.com

My blog: http://poochsmooches.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JackieBouchardWriter

Twitter: @jackiebouchard

If folks are on Goodreads and/or Shelfari, I’m on both of those as well. Just search “Jackie Bouchard.”

Hope to see you on one/all of the above! Come on over and say hi.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order What the Dog Ate from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below

 

Review: Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires

 

Title: Binky Under Pressure

Author: Ashley Spires

Publisher: Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1554535040

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In Binky’s third adventure, our intrepid, sometimes accident-prone hero is shaken out of his routine when he’s forced to contend with Gracie, a dainty striped foster kitty who comes to live at Binky’s space station (aka his home at 42 Sentinel Parkway). Binky instantly resents the new arrival, whose cute face and perfect manners are downright annoying. Indeed, Gracie seems too perfect. So Binky decides to do some undercover investigating and discovers a shocking truth about the family guest. Soon Binky is thrust full-throttle into a situation that puts all his Space Cat skills to the ultimate test!

Review:

Binky’s back for another humorous adventure, and this time around he has a companion.  A decidedly unwanted companion, in the form of foster kitty Gracie.  When Binky’s beloved humans introduce him to his new room mate, he’s apprehensive at first, and then plain annoyed.  She’s eating his food, using his litter box, and playing with his best friend!  How could they do this to him?  Taking matters into his own furry paws, Binky explains to Gracie that there just isn’t room in the space station for both of them.  Then Gracie pulls out her triumph card – she’s a member of F.U.R.S.T., and she outranks him!

I loved this outing for Binky.  Gracie is there to evaluate him, and report back about his worthiness to keep his space cat card.  Binky being Binky, it’s kind of touch and go as he blunders his way through one test after another.  It’s only after an actual alien invasion that he’s finally able to strut his space cat stuff and save the day, with some team work with his CO.

The art showcases Ashley Spires’ distinctive comedic look.  Binky’s plump torso and triangle shaped head mask a skilled warrior who deals death to alien invaders with little hesitation.  Gracie is drawn with more cunning lines, and at first, I doubted her ability to commander a well-run space station like Binky’s.  A little adversity and a stealth invasion pushed those thoughts right out of my mind.

If you are looking for a chuckle worthy escape from the stress of your day, grab one of the Binky books and be prepared to laugh.  A lot.  If you want to laugh even more, read them aloud.  To anything.  Make sure you vocalize the sound effects.  You’ll be rolling around on the floor, even the dog isn’t quite as amused as you are.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher