Hi, everyone! Happy what-day-is-it?
As I mentioned here last week, I placed an order to my local independent bookstore, in order to:
a) stock up on picture books before I wasn't able to leave the house for long (which, now in the UK, we're not)
b) support my local indie bookshop, many of which are going to be struggling to survive at the moment
c) support picture book authors and illustrators whose books are publishing in these "wild & uncertain times"
Some books from my order arrived last week, right before my family went into self-isolation. Could I have asked for better timing?
So now, onto my picture book review series, which I'm calling You Gotta Read This! I have a lot to read already, but I'm also happy to take new recommendations, so please reach out to me here.
The first book that jumped out at me, quite literally, was EMERGENCY KITTENS!, by Jody Jensen Shaffer and Dave Mottram.
If ever there was a time for an emergency squad of kittens called Mimi, Twee-Twee, and Adorbs, right now is it. Does Jody Jensen Shaffer have some kind of sixth sense? YES! The sense for overwhelming cute-ness.
I dare you not to squeal
For real, these kitties will save you. And this story will knock you out with its hilarity, wit, and supreme pacing and voice. Here is the first page, which begins the story with what I can only describe as one of the most perfect set ups I've ever read:
What do you think comes next...?
These feline superheroes!
When I teach picture book plot and pacing, or work with my critique clients on their picture book manuscripts, I always mention you should set up your conflict and characters early on in the story; preferably in the 1st and 2nd spreads, possibly simultaneously. With only 32 (sometimes fewer) pages in a picture book, your space is so limited...so get right into it!
But back to Emergency Kittens! I could read this book aloud over and over again (usually in an action film voice-over style), which is the true test of a picture book's quality for me. The plot arcs in such a satisfying way (spoiler: the three dynamic heroes help a boy who's being bullied), and with funny, madcap, and surprising language. Dave Mottram's art - super fuzzy and over the top adorable - is so spot on it feels like you're watching the Saturday morning cartoon of your dreams. And the ending...while it finishes this story, it's totally apparent there could be other adventures for these Emergency Kittens.
I certainly hope so.
Even if you're in lockdown, don't deprive yourself of great children's literature. Order Emergency Kittens!
- here as an e-book
- through your independent bookstore here, here, or here
- through Barnes & Noble here
- through Books-a-Million here
- and if you're in the UK (like me), you can find the book at Waterstones, Foyles, and Hive (which is kinda like indiebound)
Emergency Kittens, written by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Dave Mottram
Published by Doubleday/Penguin Random House
Hardcover ISBN 9781984830081
Ages 3 - 7
$17.99 USD / £13.99 GBP