Griffiths's (The Day My Butt Went Psycho!
) innovative book for beginning readers collects nine short, intentionally silly snippets propelled by kid-pleasing, tongue-tripping verse. In the title tale, a cat sitting on a mat decides to chase a rat, who grabs a baseball bat: “Around and around and around the mat the rat chased the cat with the baseball bat until... KERSPLAT!” Other protagonists also encounter tongue-in-cheek adversity. Friends Ed and Ted and Ted's dog Fred survive a tumble off a cliff, a near-drowning and ingestion by a whale. Lou, “the unluckiest girl that the world ever knew,” becomes covered in a kangaroo's glue and then lands headfirst in a “prickle bush.” And pals Bill and Phil roll down a hill, landing in a puddle of smelly pig swill. Griffiths's bouncy cadence and wacky wordplay occasionally sound derivative of Dr. Seuss, as when a hog reprimands a speeding dog and frog: “Racing is NOT allowed in my bog! Not on a log! Not on a cog! No log-racing frogs! No cog-racing dogs!” And when Chuck the Duck's ice-cream truck gets stuck in the muck, Buck the Duck announces, “I can get your truck unstuck. I can suck up all the muck with the muck-sucker-upper on my muck-sucking truck!” Denton's edgy, stick-figure-filled sketches enhance the zaniness factor and the offbeat, ironic humor. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)