Friday, September 21, 2012

Review # 233: We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats: First Day of School by Peter J. Goodman; Illustrated by Nicolás S. Milano

Description: (from Amazon)
    ''My name is Carlos and I have no fur,'' the kitty cat says to his classmates on the first day of school. 
    A kitty cat with no fur? How strange thought the other cats, laughing and giggling at Carlos. Hurt and embarrassed in front of the class, he sits down at this desk and begins to cry. 
   On his way home from school, Carlos runs into Vinny, a mean kitty cat twice his size. From a distance, Flo and Marla witness what's about to happen. Do they come to his rescue or does Carlos find his own escape? 
    This rollercoaster of a story introduces the cool cast of kitty cats Carlos, Dylan, Flo, Marla, Allie, Vinny and Sammy. It reveals how each kitty has a gift something that makes them special. And sometimes it takes a difficult experience to discover this. All children have unique talents, and in this story...Carlos finds his.

Allizabeth's Review:
     I am a total cat lover! So when I got the chance to read this unique children's book about bullying, I knew that I had to take it! The first thing I noticed was Nicolás S. Milano's strange, yet fun and colorful illustrations! I love when I see artistic concepts that I have not seen before, and I know that children enjoy varied stimuli as well. The exaggerated faces and bodies of the characters are great tools for conveying expressions and emotions, although some of them were more odd than others. The second thing I noticed was the  text/dialogue, which is perfect for kids in Pre-Kindergarten through through Third Grade. The vocabulary is just right for children in these age groups, with a few challenge words dispersed throughout. The material is easy-to-read-and-understand, ferrying a message against bullying and discrimination. It is integral that children learn acceptance and tolerance when they are young, and We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats: First Day of School is a great resource. The only aspects I disliked were the mildly stereotypical characters, particularly Vinny and Carlos, and the blunt ending. I know that children will definitely want to know what happens next, and the ending does not feel as satisfying as it should. I commend Peter J. Goodman and his team for coming up with such a unique and enjoyable children's book, and hope to read more from this series in the future! A book about Allie, Sammy, or Dylan, perhaps?
Rating: 4.5/5 
Shark's Review:
     My daughter had a lot of fun reading this book, and she's 6 years old! She likes the art and the story, especially the part about Carlos and the alphabet. She has been bullied before, so it was good to see a book that tackled the problem in such a fun way. Her favorite characters are Carlos and Flo, and she loves their big eyes and smiles. Only problem is, now she wants a hairless cat, lol. 
Rating: 5/5 

Literary Lola's Review:
     The book, We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats: First Day of School, by Peter J. Goodman/ illustrated by Nicolas Milano, exemplifies the noble message that we are one and the same despite all of our differences. Even though one of the goals of this book was to convey social acceptance amidst the bullied cat’s peers by highlighting the intelligence he portrayed in the classroom – I do not feel like this turnaround was believable. The cat, Carlos, who was consistently bullied for his looks, all of the sudden becomes liked for showing off by rambling off the whole alphabet. In my own personal experience as an educator, I have found that the children who tend to bully usually stay focused on one aspect of the victim, and persist with that one “negative” aspect. 
    I liked Goodman’s idea of pointing out that there were other characteristics of people to admire and appreciate aside from looks. I also really appreciated that Goodman showed a supportive and caring role model as a parent; one who teaches Carlos to look at features within himself so that he was able to accept and change his own psychological concept of identity. 
     Overall, I thought the book was noble in the concept it was trying to portray, but I do not think it was believable as it pertains to the real world. While it is true that bullying is a huge social issue, I do not think the problem would have been resolved the way it was in the book. The ending shocked me because it just seemed like it took an abrupt turn in topic. The graphics were also slightly scary and the eyes made me think of the creepiness of the characters portrayed in the somewhat recent movie, “Coraline.”
Rating: 3.5/5
M. Springsteen's Review:
     The first thing I noticed about the book was the creepy looking cats. They seemed less than kid friendly - more Gothic in nature than I expected. I was distracted by the illustrations the entire book. However, I believe the message is a good one and is important for kids to read and understand.   
Rating: 3.5/5
Becky's Review:
     The illustrations were a bit weird. Usually children's books have really cute illustrations, but I felt that these were sort of disturbing. The message against bullying was clear, encouraging kids to accept individual differences, but it could have been brought up in a more exciting way. 
Rating: 3/5

Katie L's Review:
     I teach Kindergarten and I believe that my students and their families would love this book! It is full of multicolored illustrations, interesting looking kitty-cats, and a wonderful lesson to learn. Kids should be taught to accept everyone, and this book makes it clear - discrimination for any reason is wrong. I only wish that the ending wasn't so quick, a couple more pages to tie up the story would have been nice. I will recommend this to teachers and day care providers in my area! My thanks go to the author for such a great lesson! I wonder if there are any more books to come in the series?
Rating: 4.5/5

Amy's Review:
     The artwork in this book is grotesque and frightening. The stereotyping of people who like football as prejudicial and belligerent is discriminatory. Why give kids the message that liking sports is a characteristic of a bigot? Unnecessary and untrue! The ending was too too abrupt. A book for children ought to have a more clearly defined ending, not just an end. While the intended message is worthwhile and good for kids, the artwork and delivery are lacking.
Rating: 2.5/5

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

     Peter J. Goodman is a multimedia children's author. His Kitty Cats book series brings adults and kids together to discuss important social issues from early childhood. The series encourages discussion and dialogue through thought provoking narratives. Peter's first book, Win-Win Career Negotiations was published by Penguin Books in 2002, and he has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly among other national publications. Peter is currently earning his Masters of Arts in Writing at The Johns Hopkins University. He currently resides in Washington, DC and is the proud uncle of his two young, adorable nephews, Dylan and Gavin.

About the Illustrator:

Born in Argentina, Nico is a self-taught illustrator who has worked on numerous children’s books since 2008. His passion for drawing was immediate, as Nico drew throughout his childhood and into his teen years. Nico says "being able to work as a professional illustrator is like a dream come true." Nico's one-of-a-kind style has been influenced by such artists as acclaimed Argentine illustrator Carlos Nine and Polish illustrator, Dariusz Twardoch, whose dry pastel creations evoke strong emotional elements of dreams, love, longing and loneliness. He currently resides in Argentina with his wife, Blanca, and his 1-year-old daughter, María, who has lots of blank pages waiting for her colored pencils and pastels.

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