cover image Copycat


Ruth Brown. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45326-0

A bowery, tranquil English flat is home to four animal friends-three cats and a dog. Delightfully independent of human interference (no people are glimpsed here), the foursome maintain a sedate routine, relying for their entertainment on Buddy, the ``copycat'' protagonist. Buddy progresses from imitating his feline family to mimicking the acrobatics of backyard squirrels and birds. But when he decides to chew on a bone belonging to Bessie the dog, broken teeth land him at the vet's. Brown (The Picnic; One Stormy Night) tells this simple tale with a breezy flair and characteristic economy, while her sweeping, painterly illustrations nearly obviate the need for text. Her characteristic palette-varying shades of green, gray and brown-is perfect here, forming a fetching background for the jet-black cats. The book's clever design adds to the charm-half-pages, which, when turned, simultaneously continue the narrative and transform each spread into a different scene. The result is as comfortable and familiar as a beloved pet. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)