Cat Dog (Mem Fox & Mark Teague)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cat Dog by Mem Fox and Mark Teague, a seemingly-simple yet surprisingly intriguing look at narratives and point of view.

There are two things the reader can be sure of: 1) there is a dog in this book, and b) there is a cat in this book. Beyond that, the details can get, well… fuzzy. The description of a simple scenario between a dog, a cat, and a mouse in a living room becomes more complex with the introduction of unreliable narration and shifting perspectives. As the story unfolds, readers can decide for themselves what actually took place – and what happens next.

Deceptively complex. The idea of unreliable narration can be tricky for children’s books, but this one balances the concept well with a simplified story, uncomplicated text and some hilariously illustrative artwork. As each page asks a question of the reader, and the following page answers with either yes or no, giving young bookworms the opportunity to guess for themselves what might happen next, and leaves the final question open-ended so they can imagine how the story might further unfold. It’s a clever concept, and very well executed. The illustrations do a great job of portraying the multiple possibilities presented through subtle shifts in tone, details, and the body language of the animals. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one, especially the twists and turns and easy-to-read text. Overall, this was a really interesting read, and well worth checking out. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites (Tullio Corda)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites by Tullio Corda, a simple and entertaining story of a pair of feisty frenemies.

Told by combining single- or double-word opposite pairs with illustrations, the reader follows the red cat and blue dog through a day of misadventures, primarily fueled by the cat’s sneaky and mischievous actions and the sweet yet dopey dog’s reactions. Readers can explore opposites such as above/below, quiet/loud, soft/hard, and so on, as the cat and dog stumble through a series of antics and interactions.

Simple and cute. While the concept is fairly basic and the story not particularly noteworthy, this translated import still has a good amount going for it. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and full of inoffensive, child-friendly visual humor that made JJ smile. And for beginning-readers, the simplicity of the words used to convey the opposite pairs is a plus – JJ was able to read nearly the entire book on her own, with only a few corrections on longer words like “unconcerned”. It’s a quick title that would make for a brief read, but for kids learning their opposites or beginning to read by themselves, this could be a nice easy read to help build confidence. Overall, it’s not a bad little book; nothing groundbreaking, but a well-constructed update on some classical literacy-comprehension themes, and worth a look. All in all, Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion (Stephen W. Martin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion, written by Stephen W. Martin and illustrated Dan Tavis, the silly story of one exceedingly cute kitty.

Fluffy McWhiskers is one cute cat… perhaps a bit TOO cute. You see, whenever someone lays eyes on her undeniable adorableness, they literally explode from cuteness overload. Fluffy tries to combat this by wearing an ugly sweater, giving herself a bad haircut, even wearing a bag on her head, but alas, all these preventative measures backfire – she’s even cuter than before. Making a few failed attempts to isolate herself, she finally finds peace on a deserted island; unfortunately, she finds that deserted islands are pretty lonely. That is, until the day she hears barking coming from the beach! Can she save her latest victim from cuteness explosion? Or perhaps… she won’t have to.

Hilariously weird. Flat out, this is a bizarre one with an oddly dark premise that somehow… works. Whether it’s Martin’s irreverent and deadpan text or Tavis’s hilarious artistic interpretation of the cuteness overloads – illustrated as smoky/inky clouds of rainbow dust – and visual gags, this very strange tale has a lightness of tone that overtakes any heavier implications of a cat so cute she causes literal death. The comedy works so well, from the dry jokes paired with outrageous artwork to scenes that come out of nowhere yet further the ludicrous plot in humorously expected ways (“The handwriting is so cute!” a fishing bear proclaims, reading a message in a bottle written by Fluffy, before bursting into the now-familiar visual of death-by-cuteness). The length is fine for storytime, but the tone may work better for slightly older elementary readers who will get the dry humor; that being said, JJ thought it was a riot. A wonderfully weird read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Little Kitten (Nicola Killen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Little Kitten by Nicola Killen, an adorable autumn tale of feline friendship.

Little Ollie, clad in a playful catsuit, is ready to head outside to enjoy a fall day with her own pet cat, Pumpkin. Yet just as she’s about to jump into a pile of crunchy leaves, a gust of wind blows them all away – to reveal a shivering kitten hidden within! Ollie and Pumpkin welcome their new friend with a day of play and cuddles, but in all the excitement, Ollie and the new kitten run off and accidentally leave Pumpkin behind. Discovering some “Lost Kitten” flyers, Ollie realizes that her new friend is missed by his own person, and endeavors to help him find his way home. With a mysterious path, a missing Pumpkin, and a quickly-falling night, can Ollie get the kitten home… without becoming lost herself?

Delightful. This sweet-as-pumpkin-pie story is as gentle and cozy of an autumn tale as any reader could wish for. Themes of adventure and friendship (and just a hint of Halloween) are rich, yet the story itself is simple, making for a lovely and light storytime. Equally appealing is the soft yet striking artwork, which features adorable, endearing characters in shades of gray, white, and orange. The sporadic cutouts and gorgeous use of foil amongst the fall foliage is the cherry on top. The length is perfect, and JJ adored it. A modern fall classic-in-the-making that’s sure to please, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Scratchie: A Touch-And-Feel Cat Adventure (Maria Putri)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Scratchie: A Touch-And-Feel Cat Adventure by Maria Putri, a delightful toddler book centered around a frisky feline.

Scratchie the cat loves to scratch things – “it keeps my claws super sharp”. The mischievous kitty invites the reader along to scratch things together, touring through an abundance of different textures. And after a busy morning of scratching together (and leaving an enormous mess), Scratchie has the perfect idea for winding down: a snooze and a pet of some nice, soft cat fur.

Cat-loving bookworms will go nuts for this one – JJ was practically jumping out of her skin at the opportunity to follow along and pretend to “scratch” the different textures with Scratchie, and the self-possessed, very feline quality of the dialogue made me chuckle. The textures themselves are very nicely varied, though they don’t always quite line up with what’s being described; a “scratchy” paper towel is a soft terry cloth, and a “wooden” table is the distinct feel of vinyl plastic. Still, the wonderfully soft fur of Scratchie at the end served a dual purpose of tying up the story nicely and giving us a go-to page to practice gently petting a cat, which would be a huge help for any house that hosts both toddlers and kitties. The length was perfect, and we liked this one. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)