cover image Cool Daddy Rat

Cool Daddy Rat

Kristyn Crow, , illus. by Mike Lester. . Putnam, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24375-2

Debut author Crow’s hip ode to jazz (and scat in particular) will sweep up its audience in its catchy beat as kinetic cartoon art adds verve and wit. Blue-gray rats with bulbous snouts and ever-expressive eyes star in the animals-only tale. Bass player Cool Daddy Rat, in his rose-colored jacket and black beret, heads out to perform in the big city, but his son, Ace, stows away: Daddy Rat “got to scat for a fat cat/ witty kitty shoo bat/ went an odd way/ down Broadway/ hippy zippy/ zee zat/ and found Ace in his bass case!/ peeky squeaky who dat.” After being made to phone his mother (Ace’s rats-will-be-rats expression is alone worth the cover price), the little rat tags along to the various gigs, among them a rooftop party and a cruise. Lester’s (A Is for Salad ) computer-assisted watercolor illustrations in a heady palette show characters seemingly in perpetual motion—jumping, dancing, moving ahead in the line outside a club. (Ignore the cover image, which seems defaced by the lettering for the title.) The undercurrent of scat, always printed in a colored font, will be read-aloud heaven for jazz-loving adults, giving kids an addictive first taste of the pleasures to be had. Ages 3-up. (Mar.)