cover image Cat, You Better Come Home

Cat, You Better Come Home

Garrison Keillor. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85112-6

What happens to an uppity cat when she gets a taste of the ``good life''? When Keillor does the spinning, the tale takes a slyly farcical turn, like the best of his Prairie Home Companion radio skits. Bouncy, syncopated verse (adapted from one of Keillor's folksongs) tells of Puff's rise and fall as ``the Number One TV cat-food queen'' at the same time that it wryly mocks the one-sided relationship between haughty feline and supplicating owner. Feeling underappreciated, Puff departs in a huff to seek her fortune, leaving the despondent narrator wailing, ``CAT, YOU BETTER COME HOME.'' Johnson and Fancher, who previously collaborated on Jon Scieszka's The Frog Prince, Continued, play up the details of Puff's transformation. She is all Hollywood feline femme-fatale, stretched out on a divan in a mink boa, or surrounded by her entourage (``A swimming instructor, and a butler named Bruce/ And a ballet coach, and a German masseuse''--the swimming teacher is a be-goggled octopus, while the butler is a formally attired bloodhound bearing a bowl of goldfish atop a silver tray). The rich, honey-toned paintings accentuate the humor with slightly skewed perspectives; intermittent blocks of text are decorated with cartoonish sketches. Young readers may miss some of the references in the text and the art, but ailurophiles will rejoice. All ages. (May)