cover image Can’t Catch Me!

Can’t Catch Me!

Timothy Knapman, illus. by Simona Ciraolo. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9496-8

Knapman’s tale of comeuppance is as tightly constructed as a fable from Aesop, and the ending is just as inevitable. It starts with a bang: “Here’s Jake, the fastest mouse in the world. Oh, no—he’s gone! Quick! After him!” Old Tom Cat, painted by Ciraolo (The Lines on Nana’s Face) with sinuous curves and a cruel smirk, swipes at Jake, but the mouse is too fast. He outruns other predators, too: “I was too fast for Old Tom Cat, and I’ll be too fast for you,” Jake tells the fox as he hustles away like a sprinter. He’s too fast for the wolf and the bear, and he taunts them all. “I’m faster than lightning!” he crows, dancing around. When Jake returns to where he started, Old Tom Cat has learned a thing or two. “I’m so weak,” the cat says. “Come closer.” While arrogant Jake isn’t the most likeable mouse in the world, readers who admire raw swagger will hope he escapes once more. He doesn’t, but Ciraolo’s sunny woodland paintings and Knapman’s engaging storyteller’s voice offer compensation. Ages 2–5. (Nov.)