cover image The Fat-Cats at Sea

The Fat-Cats at Sea

J. Patrick Lewis, Victoria Chess. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (34pp) ISBN 978-0-679-82639-2

In rollicking poems matched with devilishly droll art, six well-fed felines set sail on The Frisky Dog under orders from Her Majesty, the Queen of Catmandoo, to bring back the incomparable sticky buns that grow wild on the isle of Sticky-Goo. Their voyage is marked by the sorts of adventures that are practically de rigeur for any tale of the high seas: they are visited by terrible homesickness (``The Homesick Song of Rotten Stew''), meet up with a hostile vessel (``Attack on the Poodles'') and wash up on the shores of a lotus-like paradise (``On the Nowhere Isles'') before returning home with their bounty, the ``yeasty gold'' their sovereign craves. Lewis and Chess, creators of A Hippopotamusn't, have produced another first-class book of children's verse. The jaunty rhythms and smooth, impeccable rhymes flow effortlessly, employing a highly appealing blend of downright silliness and a more sophisticated cleverness (the subjects of ``An Octopus He and She'' bob off ``arm in arm.../ in arm.../ in arm...''). And Chess's sailor-suited Fat-Cats are a treat: satisfyingly pudgy and comically expressive, whether they are coloring in their navigational maps or howling for their mums to the cat-in-the-moon, they are an indispensible element of the journey's great allure. Ages 4-9. (Sept.)