cover image How Many Candles?

How Many Candles?

Helen V. Griffith. Greenwillow Books, $16 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16258-0

The creators of Alex and the Cat bring back the canine-feline duo for a quirky tale that takes a half-hearted stab at explaining the relative life spans of humans and several animal species. Alex the dog has a cake with 10 candles for his master, Robbie, who is turning 10. When the cat observes that ""Ten years in a boy is the same as seventy years in a cat,"" Alex frets that he may need to top the cake with 70 candles. He is further confounded by a turtle's comment that his kind can live to be 100 and that ""Ten years to a turtle is eight years to a boy."" The canine then wonders if he should remove two of the 10 candles so that eight remain. Kids may have trouble following the logic, especially when two gnats appear on the scene, prompting the cat to note that ""Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat."" Though it all adds up to a rather random assemblage of comparisons (and readers never do view the birthday boy), Griffith does insert some funny asides, as when the cat discovers that, underneath the frosting, the cake ""seems to be made of dog biscuits"" and Alex responds, ""Is that wrong?"" Lamut's art also serves up some amusing images, including Alex's mental picture of the cat as a 70-year-old birthday celebrant sitting in a rocking chair, balloons tied to his cane. The ever-popular birthday theme may just be enough to override any confusion surrounding the candle count. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)