STARRED REVIEW
June 2020

Joy

By Erin McGraw
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Kittens are furry balls of unbridled energy, careening around the house at lightning speed and then plunging into sleep wherever they happen to land. They’re adorable and fearless agents of household delight and chaos. In Joy, Yasmeen Ismail and Jenni Desmond winningly capture kittenhood for an aptly titled read-aloud. 

A gray tabby kitten named Joy bats and flings around a red ball of yarn with abandon: “Jingle jangle, wriggle wrangle, in a tangle.” Desmond’s swooping lines expertly and entertainingly evoke a kitten in perpetual motion, a smile always on her face, the brightly colored house her playground. A stripey brown cat and an enormous dog observe Joy’s hijinks with tolerant amusement, perhaps recalling their own wild younger days—until, unable to resist, they join in on the fun. 

And then! Joy takes a tumble and scares herself into stillness. Mama Cat gives Joy a soothing hug while Dog stands supportively by as they tell her, “I think you’re going to be just fine. Give yourself a little time.” Readers will cheer to watch as, fortified by this reassurance, Joy recovers lickety-split and triumphantly rubber-bands around the room once again.

Ismail and Desmond’s take on tiny felines is hilarious and sweet. Ismail’s giggle-inducing onomatopoeic rhymes wend their way through Desmond’s kinetic (kitten-ic?) artwork, as Joy’s exclamatory inner monologue amusingly punctuates the whirlwindy, somersaulting sequences. Desmond’s heavy pencil strokes are enervated by her vivid watercolors, and she uses white space to excellent effect during Joy’s manic moments, providing necessary breathing room for zooming and boinging galore. 

Joy is a warm and funny testament to the energy of youth, the rejuvenating powers of a comforting hug and the resilience of those who feel supported with love.

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Joy

Joy

By Erin McGraw
Counterpoint
ISBN 9781640092082

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