cover image So, What's It Like to Be a Cat?

So, What's It Like to Be a Cat?

Karla Kuskin, , illus. by Betsy Lewin. . S&S/Atheneum, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84733-2

Lewin's (Cat Count ) title page illustration cleverly makes clear the premise of Kuskin's (Toots the Cat , reviewed above) playful poem by featuring an announcement on a schoolroom blackboard: "Today's Assignment: An Interview." A boy sits in a pupil's wooden chair with paper and pencil while a gray cat reclines in a director's chair, as if she were the prized guest of a late night show. "So, what's it like to be a cat?" asks the red-haired boy. "I'm very glad you asked me that," answers the yellow-eyed feline, and she launches into a description of her habits ("slipping out on silent feet,/ I search for something nice to eat") and the differences between cats and other creatures. The boy's questions punctuate his subject's self-centered riffs about where she sleeps and demonstrations of how well she can leap. Lewin's fetchingly feline black-lined watercolors on stark white pages model how the pet can "bounce and pounce/ and slide and sally,/ rush and run/ and twirl and spring" until she literally knocks her interviewer off his chair. The furry star is fittingly egotistical and arch, whimsical and proud. At times, the rhyming text seems a tad formal for a conversation, but throughout Lewin underscores the humor inherent in Kuskin's depiction of a cat's narcissistic existence, and the black-lined gray heroine exhibits all that a feline should be—"Meow. And how." Ages 3-8. (June)