Mr. Biddles

Kristine A. Lombardi. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-244114-0
Lombardi’s story stars an odd couple: Mr. Biddles, a lonely inventor cat dressed in a smoking jacket and cravat, and Hobson, a lobster who arrives at his front door after a shipping mishap. “ ‘That’s awful!’ said Mr. Biddles, snipping the rubber bands from Hobson’s claws.” Those claws are highly functional hand tools, it emerges, as the two become happy collaborators. When Hobson grows homesick, Mr. Biddles accompanies him to Maine for a visit, then realizes that he can’t drag his friend home: “How could he tell Hobson it was almost time to leave? He couldn’t.” As an artist, Lombardi (The Grumpy Pets) conveys Mr. Biddles’s esoteric interests with collage elements that include old ledger pages and antique desk telephones; tools, file folders, and schematic diagrams cram his workspace. Most entertaining are the cat’s inventions: a handlebar-mounted sardine dispenser, a catnip diffuser. Leaving somebody one wants to cling to isn’t easy for kids (or adults), but Mr. Biddles makes it easier to understand that sometimes it’s necessary. And the ending, though overly tidy, reveals that Hobson values their friendship just as much. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/19/2017
Release date: 08/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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