cover image Cute and Cuter

Cute and Cuter

Michael Townsend. Knopf, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85718-8

Maximally cute indeed, this comic strip–style tale examines the tense relationship between a forlorn dog and his owner’s brand-new cat. For her birthday, sugar-sweet Janie Jane gets “the cutest thing she’d ever seen: Sir Yips-a-lot.” A montage shows the kewpie doll–faced girl and her roly-poly pal spending a blissful year together until, “before they knew it, it was Janie Jane’s birthday again!” With an open-mouthed “gasp”—written in large floating letters that dominate the panel—Janie opens a package to reveal a saucer-eyed kitten (“She is soooo cute! And Meow-y!”), dubbed Lady Meow-meow. After his charming tricks and mournful howls fail to win back Janie’s affections, Sir Yips-a-lot launches “Operation Cute-Be-Gone,” ejecting tiny, helpless Lady Meow-meow out the mail slot and into the suburban night. Soon, his guilt gets the better of him. Townsend (Monkey and Elephant’s Worst Fight Ever!) composes treacly conversations, breathless overstatements, yips, and meows that demand to be read in squeaky voices. His saccharine, pastel-hued comics imply satire yet can be read without irony, accompanied by plenty of giggling. Ages 5–8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (June)