cover image Red Cat, Blue Cat

Red Cat, Blue Cat

Jenni Desmond. Blue Apple (Random, dist.), $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-60905-248-5

Themes of jealousy and identity intertwine in this cleverly designed book about two emotive cats%E2%80%94one with red stripes, the other splotchy blue%E2%80%94who are always fighting, but secretly admire each other's talents. Airy background scenes with precisely detailed household objects accompany na%C3%AFf illustrations of the mutually envious felines. At least one tiny mouse can be found on each spread, and debut talent Desmond's often hilarious artwork expands on her understated prose with great success. First, the cats attempt to change their colors in order to be more like the other ("If I turn myself red, I will become fast and bouncy!" thinks Blue Cat, who gobbles strawberries, rose petals, and other red foods). Predictably, the cats become friends while accepting themselves for who they are, yet Desmond thwarts expectations with the late introduction of a talented new cat; endpapers stage a repeat of the two cats' attempts to change their colors, only this time with the desire to be yellow. With tongue-in-cheek humor, Desmond kneads at the complex emotions underlying friendships, without overemphasizing the message about appreciating oneself. Ages 4%E2%80%93up. Agent: The Bright Agency. (Sept.)