Tabby McTat, the Musical Cat

Julia Donaldson, Author, Axel Scheffler, Illustrator
Julia Donaldson, illus. by Axel Scheffler. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-45168-0
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Tabby’s meow is “loud and strong”—in fact, he’s one half of a busking act with his owner, Fred: “MEEE-EW and the old guitar,/ How PURRRR-fectly happy we are.” Tabby and Fred are separated by various twists of fate, and Tabby finds love and an even more idyllic life with his beloved’s owners, Prunella and Pat, a cheery older couple who don’t mind that Tabby is fond of “hiding the car keys under the mat.... And giving the pens an occasional bat.” How Donaldson and Scheffler (the team behind The Gruffalo and several other books) tie up the narrative threads so that loyalties aren’t torn asunder and everyone ends up happily ever after makes for a surprising and fun read. Donaldson makes those who read aloud work a bit to find a metric footing in this outing, but she adeptly builds gentle narrative tension that will keep children eager to find out what happens next. Once again, she’s helped enormously by Scheffler, whose bright-eyed, warmhearted characterizations make this a wonderful testimony to the ties that bind. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)
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