cover image DRAT THAT FAT CAT!


Pat Thomson, , illus. by Ailie Busby. . Scholastic/ Levine, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-47195-4

The captivating fat cat in this silly cumulative tale from a British team will eat anything. He gleefully consumes a rat, duck, dog, lady and even a bee whose sting causes him to "Hic!" and burp them all up again. The cat's pink-cheeked, innocent face and the animals' "quack quack quacking" and "squeak, squeak, squeaking" inside the cat's growing tummy obliterate any fears youngest readers might have about the gobbling menace. No sharp-toothed villain, the cat is a plump charmer who has obviously not heard of the nation's obesity crisis. Thomson's (The Squeaky, Creaky Bed ) repetitive tag line ("But was that cat fat enough? No, he was not! ") encourages reader participation while cleverly obscuring the speaker's point of view. As in the familiar verse about the old lady who swallowed a fly ("I don't know why..."), there's no reason given for the cat's behavior, and his comeuppance when the bee stings him is both short-lived and comic. The fat cat's unrepentant nature is underscored on the last page as he eyes a succulent mouse, a hint that the story may begin again. Busby's (Rosie's Zoo ) droll watercolor cartoons make use of quirky shapes and perspectives. Her cat is not simply fat but gargantuan, towering over dog and doghouse, its pink stomach so capacious that its inhabitants are shown lolling within. Sheer enjoyable nonsense. Ages 2-6. (Nov.)