cover image I Won’t Eat That

I Won’t Eat That

Christopher Silas Neal. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7909-5

A beefy yellow cat narrates Neal’s tale; he’s through with cat food, he says. After sending his kibble flying with a kick, he sets off in search of tastier fare and surveys other animals. “What does a turtle eat,” he asks. “Worms, of course,” is the turtle’s reply. “But I must warn you, they wiggle.” Neal’s animals, painted in milky colors, have a folktale look suited to the story’s traditional question-and-answer form and use of repetition. Several animals later, the cat is no closer to satisfaction: “I’m really hungry and searching for something yummy to eat that doesn’t wiggle, bounce, or bite and that isn’t too big, too dry, or too boring.” Suddenly, a mouse appears and asks what a cat eats. The jolt of electricity is palpable; the cat lowers its body and licks its lips. “I think I’ve just figured it out. But I must warn you...” he says. Though the mouse escapes, the biggest surprise is the cat’s transformation from idle observer into glittery-eyed predator. Perhaps that’s the story’s lesson—the right choice is the one that instantly focuses our attention. Ages 4–6. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Nov.)