Hi there... This is the first page of the Letter "K" in an alphabetical listing of children's books reviewed on ReadThatAgain.com... All these books are also listed by Author in another section of the site.

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Kids Books -- "K" By Title
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"Kate, The Cat And The Moon"
Written by David Almond
Illustrated by Stephen Lambert
(Random House/Doubleday, 2004)

A captivating, but disorientingly fantastical book about a little girl who hears a cat calling outside her window one night, then magically transforms into a cat herself, to join it in a moonlight romp. The story is beautiful, but it might be a little weird for very young readers to take in... And for parents who believe that fairy tales and stories with talking animals in them are the work of the Devil, well... you might want to skip this one. Families that embrace magic and magical thinking will dig it, though... (B)


"Katherine's Doll"
Written by Elizabeth Winthrop
Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
(Dutton, 1983)

A great girly-girl book about two best friends, Katherine and Molly, who get in a huge fight after one of them gets a beautiful new doll that she only sort of wants to share. They have a falling out and stop talking to one another, but the state of war only lasts a little while, since they both wind up missing their friend right away. There are lots of books that cover this topic, but this is one of the best. The text is compelling, as is the richly detailed artwork, while the cause of their fight -- as well as its resolution -- is easily understood and entirely plausible. Recommended! (A)


"Katie And The Mona Lisa"
Written by James Mayhew
Illustrated by James Mayhew
(Scholastic/Orchard Books, 1999)

An imaginative young girl named Katie goes to the art museum and has a fantastical adventure with some classic artwork. One of a series of books that explore some of the great masterworks of painting. (-)


"Katie And The Sunflowers"
Written by James Mayhew
Illustrated by James Mayhew
(Orchard Books, 2000)

Part of a series in which a young girl encounters great art in fantasy play inside a museum. Famous pictures come to life and she has adventures with figures inside each canvas -- Tahitian women rendered by Paul Gauguin, Gallic farmers by Vincent van Gogh, etc. This volume explores the work of post-impressionists such as Cezanne, Gauguin and van Gogh... The gimmicky premise makes for rather flimsy, contrived plots, but the pictures are lovely and the overall sense of the fantastic is still delightful. A good way to bring canonical artwork into the lives of small kids... The series gets even better as it goes along. (B)


"Katie Catz Makes A Splash"
Written by Anne Rockwell
Illustrated by Paul Meisel
(Harper Collins, 2003)

Nice story about a little girl who conquers her fear of the water and learns how to swim... Katie avoids the subject of swimming and gets sad when some friends are going to have a pool party for their birthday -- finally her mom sends her to a swim class and there the seasoned teacher, Patsy Polarbear, quickly gains the girl's trust and gets her in the pool. The book is both a good story about a kid's personal journey, and a useful primer (for adults and children) about how to learn to swim. And Patsy's such a nice role model! (B+)


"Katie Meets The Impressionists"
Written by James Mayhew
Illustrated by James Mayhew
(Scholastic/Orchard Books, 1999)

The works of Monet, Renoir and Degas are explored in this volume of the fanciful Katie series. (See below for more reviews...) (-)


"Katie's Sunday Afternoon"
Written by James Mayhew
Illustrated by James Mayhew
(Scholastic/Orchard Books, 2004)

Another volume in Mayhew's art-appreciation series. The pretext for visiting the museum this time is that it's a hot day and the public pool is full, so Katie and her grandma go elsewhere to keep cool. Once again, grandma dozes off and Katie has a fantastic adventure among pictures that come to life. Mayhew explores the work of French Pointillists such as Georges Seurat, Camille Pissaro and Paul Signac, with Katie jumping into the paintings and characters from the canvas coming out to have a romp in the museum with her. The paintings are very pretty (though the plot is preposterous) and this is a nice way to expose little kids to great art. This volume has one of the more engaging, fluid plotlines of the series -- if you like the concept, this one's definitely worth checking out. (B)


"Katy And The Big Snow"
Written by Virginia Lee Burton
Illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
(Houghton Mifflin, 1943)

One of Virginia Lee Burton's classic all-American stories about hard work, pluck and pride in a job well done. Where her earlier work, Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel, could be seen as a disconsolate reflection of the Great Depression, this time around -- in the middle of the Second World War -- the tone is one of pure, undaunted optimism. Katy, the giant-sized snowplow who digs out an entire town after the biggest blizzard ever, is a pure, 100% All-American hero. (Indeed, the book could be seen as a parable for the War itself, with American might bringing civilization back to a frozen, dead world...) Technology and humanity combine in the form of the cheerful Katy, who likes nothing better than to work hard and feel useful... The book will appeal to kids who like big machines, and also like following details: a map of the snowbound city is printed at the front of the book, so you can track Katy's progress as she digs out one road after another. Also nice for kids living in the Northeast and Midwest, where big blizzards are a regular part of life -- this shows both how nature can pin our ears back and how we're able to dig ourselves out and get traffic humming again. Love the old-fashioned artwork, and the old-fashioned story. It's also neat that the hero is female, even though the story is very macho. (B)


"Keeker And The Sneaky Pony"
Written by Hadley Higgenson
Illustrated by Maja Anderson
(Chronicle Books, 2006)

We were looking for some beginning chapter-books that were reasonably intelligent, nonviolent, not filled with weird messages, unpleasant behavior, violence or issue-oriented anxieties... The Keeker series was perfect, about a bright-eyed, sometimes silly little girl nicknamed Keeker who lives on a farm with her parents and various animals, including a mischievous Shetland pony named Plum. Keeker has some of the same wide-eyed, innocent rambunctiousness that made the Beverly Cleary heroines so much fun, and is a likeable, if relatively uncomplicated, character. The whole owning-your-own-pony thing may make her a "rich" kid for many readers, but the series tries to minimize her privilege by contrasting her to wealthier, less sympathetic brats (like the boastful Tifani, in The Horse Show Show Off). It's also nice that the introductory text goes out of its way to tell us that Keeker is an only child: nice affirmation for those who haven't gone down the multi-child path. In this first book, we meet Keeker and her new pony, Plum, who is kind of cantankerous. The story revolves around that eternal pet/human question: who is training whom? Nice, simple, direct prose... No violence, nothing weird and no unfortunate racial/cultural/gender faux pas. Whew. The clean-lined artwork by Maja Anderson is very precise and deceptively "simple" looking... She gets a surprising level of subtlety into her work, and lots of humor. All in all, a fine first book in a promising, enjoyable series. (B)


"Keeker And The Horse Show Show Off"
Written by Hadley Higgenson
Illustrated by Maja Anderson
(Chronicle Books, 2006)

In this episode, Keeker and Plum enter their first horse show, and even though Plum thinks it's totally silly, she rallies to the cause when a competing pony gives her a little nip on the nose. Keeker's nemesis is a snotty rich kid named Tifani, who brags about all the ribbons she's won, and makes Keeker feel insecure because she doesn't have a bunch of fancy stuff and hasn't won any prizes. (Yet...!) There's a truly golden moment when Tifani shows off while riding past the judges -- artist Anderson draws just the perfect little asinine smile on her face, just before the spill she and her horse take on the next page, because the horse misunderstood Tifani's shifting her body to look over at the judge's panel. I kinda wish Keeker hadn't amazingly, stupendously won first place, but what the heck? She's our hero, right? A fun read, nice clean plot. Love the art. (B+)


"Keeker And The Sugar Shack"
Written by Hadley Higgenson
Illustrated by Maja Anderson
(Chronicle Books, 2006)

Keeker becomes obsessed with a mysterious old lady who has bought a nearby abandoned farmhouse: surely she must be a witch! Plum has to put up with Keeker's wild imagination, and there's more overt slapstick than in the previous volumes. Mostly just silly... and I mean that in a good way. (B)


"Keeker And The Springtime Surprise"
Written by Hadley Higgenson
Illustrated by Lisa Perrett
(Chronicle Books, 2006)

Keeker's ten years old now, and the plot's a bit more complicated... It's springtime, all the animals are having babies, and Keeker wants to protect the groundhog pups that her dad plans to chase out of the horse pasture... The plan she comes up with to save them is straight out of I Love Lucy: she decides to stage a "play" with Plum as her co-star, and after her parents are blown away by the production, she'll make her pitch for the groundhogs to stay... The trouble is, Keeker can't get her parents to pay attention to anything she says, as they are absorbed by the upcoming birth of a new foal. Turns out foals are pretty cool, and when the birth finally happens, Keeker is wowed by it. This one was a bit denser than the earlier volumes and didn't read as easily... my kid's attention definitely wandered while we read it. I kinda miss Maja Anderson's artwork, too, but the new artist is okay. (C+)


"Keeker And The Pony Camp Catastrophe"
Written by Hadley Higgenson
Illustrated by Lisa Perrett
(Chronicle Books, 2006)

The Keeker series gets back to its horsey roots with this tale of Keeker spending a summer at pony camp... Her old nemesis Tifani reappears, as one of her bunkmates in the beginner's hut, but a couple of years makes a big difference, even for spoiled brats, and now Tifani is actually quite nice. Along with their new pal, Virginia, the girls find themselves bored with beginning horse riding, but of course circumstances lead to more excitingstuff, and all three girls -- and their ponies -- have a grand old time. A strong entry in the series. (B)


"K Is For Kitten"
Written by Niki Clark Leopold
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
(Putnam, 2002)

One of our favorite alphabet books! This is largely because of the lovely artwork by Susan Jeffers (we're big fans) and also because of the strength of the writing, as well as the overall kitty-cattishness of the whole book. K Is For Kitten is also notable for being am alphabet book with a coherent narrative -- an actual beginning, middle and end -- deftly told through the course of its twenty-six character arc. It tells the tale of a little stray cat, Miss Rosie, who is rescued from an alley ("A"), brought home, fed and protected by a little girl and her family. Her main protector turns out to be the family dog, Amos, a gentle old hound who saves Rosie from mischief and mishaps, and also calmly endures the bites and pounces that come with having a little kitten in the house. The ending -- with the three of them, the little girl, the kitten and dog, all curling up to sleep together -- is one of the sweetest scenes in any of the books we've read. Rosie's rambunctiousness and the richly detailed artwork will give you lots to talk about -- in panel after panel, Jeffers catches the true essence of her subjects, and makes you believe in the reality of what you see. Recommended! (A)


"A Kiss For Little Bear"
Written by Else Homelund Minarik
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
(Harper Collins, 1968)

A late addition to Minarik's fabled "Little Bear" series, with oddball illustrations by Maurice Sendak. This is a goofy tale about a "telephone" game where a kiss is passed from Little Bear's grandmother over to Little Bear, with all the woodland critters acting as intermediaries. The smooch gets stalled when it's passing from one skunk to another; in the end, the skunks hook up and get married... Little Bear sees the skunks and draws a picture of them smooching... I'm not sure what the point of this book was... Maybe some sort of hippie-ish celebration of free love? Also, the artwork seems a bit stiff and formal, even self-congratulatorily clever... I dunno. Didn't really resonate with me.
(C-)


"Kiss Good Night"
Written by Amy Hest
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
(Candlewick, 2001)

A delightful book in which we meet little Sam Bear and his mother, who live at the end of idyllic Plum Tree Lane. It's nighttime and they are going through their bedtime ritual, an elaborate process that involves a special kind of tucking in, proper placement of various stuffed animals and lots and lots of kisses. The text has a funny, half-rhymed poetic bounce to it, and the artwork is delightful as well, perfectly capturing the affection and playfulness in this mother-child relationship. Also, since we never see a daddy in any of the Sam Bear books, I guess we can consider them as "single parent" stories as well. Anyway, these are really sweet stories, and have been longtime favorites at our house for a long, long time. Plus, I absolutely adore the artwork -- some of the finest I've seen in any contemporary picturebooks. Highly recommended. (A)


"Kiss The Cow"
Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
(Candlewick, 2000)

A cute story about a strongwilled little girl named Annalisa who stubbornly refuses to kiss the family cow, even though she knows that failing to do so (thereby hurting the cow's feelings) means that ol' Luella won't give any more milk, and all the kids on the farm will go hungry. It isn't until Annalisa wonders what it would feel like to kiss a cow that she gives in, and all is put right. A goofy story, but if you've got one of those "spirited" children, one that may ring true and give you a way to talk about the downside of stubbornness. Plus, Luella the cow is just so darn cute, especially when she's all sad that the girl won't kiss her. Oh, those big, brown eyes! (B)


"Kitten In Trouble"
Written by Nancy Polushkin
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
(Simon & Schuster, 1988)

I love Betsy Lewin's artwork, and this was the book where I first discovered her light, sketchy, playful style... This is a giddy romp along with a rambunctious little kitten who attacks sleeping feet, knocks over furniture, brings breakfast crashing to the floor and gets stuck 'way up high in the biggest tree in the neighborhood... But, gosh darn if he ain't a cute little devil. This is a great book with a fun refrain that little kids will enjoy: "UH-OH! Kitten's in trouble!" You'll love this book. (A-)


"Kitten Red, Yellow, Blue"
Written by Peter Catalanotto
Illustrated by Peter Catalanotto
(Atheneum Books, 2005)

See, there's just no accounting for taste: I hated this book, but my wife and kid bonded over it for about two months. The plot is super-simple: a calico cat has a large flock of kittens, and the only way to tell them apart is by the color of the ribbons they use as collars. Each kitten goes to a different person, each with their own profession: a police officer, a fire fighter, etc., and there is some linkage between the hues and the jobs (the karate instructor's cat wears white, and so on...) But, man, what a dumb book! My kid liked it because there was a lot of opportunity for remembering details -- the cat names, the colors they wore, what they did -- and I suppose that is the point. It's also a number book, and (obviously) a color book. (One small complaint: they get onto some esoteric color choices, but the hues shown on the pages don't really match -- a pee-yellow "teal," for example. I mean, if you're going to do a book about colors, at least get your registration marks right!) (C+)


"The Knight Who Took All Day"
Written by James Mayhew
Illustrated by James Mayhew
(Scholastic/Chicken House, 2005)

A gleefully cartoonish book that takes the knight-in-shining-armor paradigm and playfully turns it on its head. Here, the knight in question is a puffed-up, macho blowhard, who longs for the chance to trounce a big, bad dragon so that he can win the heart of the fair princess. When the chance finally arises, he takes so long preening himself getting ready -- he's got to look right before he can go out to best the beast -- that the princess takes matters into her own hands and dons armor herself, and tames the dragon rather that kill it. Afterwards, she ditches the knight and elopes with his mild-mannered squire. This book is a delight on so many levels -- the text is very tongue-in-cheek and sly, and is easily matched by the artwork, which has plenty of amusing details, including the steadfast preparations of the princess, who calmly marshals herself while the knight vainly dithers about in his tower. Plus, it's a great tomboy saga, and it's pro-dragon, too, which is a nice change of pace. This is a fun, funny book... recommended! (A)


"Know What I Saw?"
Written by Aileen Fisher
Illustrated by Deborah Durland DeSaix
(Roaring Brook, 2005)

A groovy counting + nature + girl power book... A young girl (maybe 6 or 7?) climbs a tree, and tromps through forest and field, encountering raccoons and mice, bunnies, skunks and kittens... The artwork is obviously based on photo studies, but nonetheless is warm and appealing (and is the source of the "girl-power" theme -- the text is gender neutral.) The rhyming text, which counts backwards from ten to one, is quite effective, with a nice rhythmic bounce to it... All in all, a fine counting book, good for older kids as well. (A)


"Knuffle Bunny - A Cautionary Tale"
Written by Mo Willems
Illustrated by Mo Willems
(Hyperion, 2004)

We LOVE this book!! This is a wonderful story that explores the difficulties of communication with a pre-verbal child. A little girl named Trixie starts to cry when she loses her stuffed animal and grows frustrated when she can't explain to her father what has happened. Her father, who hadn't noticed that the bunny was missing, tries to calm her down by talking about other things, which frustrates the little girl even more. The psychology of the book is very realistic and simple: this is exactly the kind of thing that happens to small children before they can talk, and the book written as much for the parents as it is for the kids. (My child points and smiles with satisfaction at the panel where the father realizes the mistake he's made, and Trixie has an I-told-you-so look on her face. For my part, I try not to lose things... ever! :-) It's also nice that the book is set in an urban environment (Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY)... A book that shows a walk to the laundromat may be a welcome change of pace for parents who live in cities and wonder when the heck they are ever going to get the chance to see a bunch of barnyard animals... In short, the appeal of this book is in understanding and validating the experience of children at a time in their lives when their voices are hard to hear. Highly recommended. (A++)




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