DARING DOG AND CAPTAIN CAT

Arnold Adoff, Author, Joe Cepeda, Illustrator
Arnold Adoff, Author, Joe Cepeda, Illustrator , illus. by Joe Cepeda. S&S $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-82599-6
Reviewed on: 09/24/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
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Free verse, frozen into solid blocks of text, enriches this story of double lives. By day, a docile blue dog is called Irving, and a calm brown cat answers to Ermine. "Our Children Give Us Those Names," the animals announce in tandem. "But We Do Not Have Those Names/ Inside/ Our/ Dog/ And/ Cat/ Heads." After their masters go to bed, they become the swashbuckling Daring Dog and Captain Cat, caroming about the house: "We Move So Fast/ We Flash/ .../ Like Human/ Heroes In/ The Story/ Books Our/ Children/ Read." Cepeda (Mice and Beans, reviewed Sept. 17) pictures the protagonists in billowing capes and plumed hats, brandishing swords and toppling furniture in pursuit of "Rat/ Faced/ Crooks." In layered oil paintings, he spackles ochre, foam green and pale violet on a shadowy undercoating of chocolate, evergreen and midnight blue. Adoff (Touch the Poem) alters reading speed and comprehension by capitalizing every word, varying the leading between letters and arranging words in eccentric groups. His synchronized narrators don't use language the way people do, although they "Always/ Come/ With/ Out/ Fail" when hailed as Irving and Ermine. Youngsters will appreciate the covert proceedings: while the images tell a breezy tale of carousing, the experimental poetry implies that ordinary pets harbor hidden personas. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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