The Cats and the Cake (I Like to Read)

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, illus. by Steve Henry. Holiday House, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4756-5

When a dreamy-looking cake—slathered in pink frosting and decorated with blue rosettes—falls off a bakery pastry cart, two cats spring into action. “This is mine,” says an orange and white cat; “No. This is mine,” counters a black and white feline. The gainsaying continues until a red fox appears, enters the establishment, and intervenes: “You need to share,” Fox proclaims, sounding very reasonable. Seemingly helpful, Fox first breaks the cake into two portions, then nibbles on each to equal them out: “This is too big. I will fix it.” But after admitting “I can’t stop. You will fight,” Fox turns full attention on the cake remnants—even spinning the remaining bites on a single finger—before demanding the now downhearted felines’ gratitude (“This is mine! I helped you. You must thank me”). Henry’s (Snow Is Fun) ink, watercolor, and acrylic paint cartoons have scoopfuls of comic pep and are as bright as a freshly iced confection. Hamilton and Weiss’s (the Noodleheads series) dialogue balloons offer the repetition nascent readers need, along with humor that should elicit knowing chuckles. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)