cover image Cat Problems

Cat Problems

Jory John, illus. by Lane Smith. Random House Studio, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-593-30213-2

The star of the third entry in the collaborators’ Animal Problems series is a sarcastic, malcontent cat narrator who is unrepentant right out of the gate. “Great,” John’s protagonist begins after a sunbeam moves off its body: “Now I’m awake, and I only got nineteen hours of sleep.” As Smith, in muted colors, mottled textures, and strong vertical lines, presents an unadorned background fit for feline ennui, the cat offers a veritable catalog of disgruntled, imperious, and impulsive feelings, some leveled at a smaller, miserably bullied cat who shares the house (“You’re in my spot”), some at household items such as a vacuum cleaner (“You do not want to mess with these claws,” the kitty threatens, ineffectively taking refuge behind a lamp), and some at no one at all (“Maybe I’ll meow for a while”). It’s the opposite of good behavior but is so deliciously sour that when a self-righteous squirrel lectures the cat on the notion of gratitude, readers are tempted to side with the cat. Indeed, the animal’s spewing seems so authentically feline that readers can’t help but laugh—and perhaps even identify with an id unabashedly unleashed. Ages 3–7. [em](Aug.) [/em]