Big Squeak, Little Squeak

Robert Kraus, Author, Kevin O'Malley, Illustrator Orchard Books (NY) $15.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-531-09474-7
Big Squeak and Little Squeak, a sort of mouse version of Beavis and Butt-head, are finally overcome by the tedium of watching mouse cartoons on TV and eating cheese curls, and make an excursion to a local cheese shop. The good news: everything inside the shop is free. The bad news: the proprietor is a hungry cat, and he soon has Little Squeak in his clutches. The two save themselves as well as other prisoners of the evil cat, but after beginning with so much promise, the story resolves in a way that feels hasty and perfunctory (the cat rushes out of the store as soon as he hears Big Squeak speak in a scary voice). O'Malley's (Cinder Edna; Rollercoaster) richly textured mixed-media illustrations are a different story, however. Whether depicting Big Squeak and Little Squeak's couch-potato ennui or a raucous celebration of liberated mice, his pictures combine a compelling intensity of composition with a droll wit that both children and adults can appreciate. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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