Rufus at Work
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Author, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Illustrator
In this homage to the feline way of life, young Posy asks of the eponymous feline anti-hero, "Rufus, fat cat, what are you good for?" This is a patently silly question, as any cat knows, but Rufus goes through a typical day, proving his or her utter indispensability. Rufus's relentless responsibilities start with waking up both Posy, the owner (with a comical eyeball-to-eyeball wake-up call), and Finn, the goldfish ("He expects it"). Mid-day finds the feline guarding the birdbath and keeping the sun off the rug. Finally, Posy needs help with her homework—this entails sitting in the middle of her school papers—even though "at the end of the day, sometimes I don't have much energy left." In the first book that they have both written and illustrated, this husband-and-wife team gets plenty of comic mileage from Rufus's considerable credibility gap. The large-scale acrylic artwork possesses an editorial sensibility and an exaggerated, almost sculptural angularity. The style cannily underscores the archness of the humor. As for Rufus, while the pet is decidedly denim blue with elegant navy stripes, every single mannerism—from the over-eager delight in his or her yellow eyes to a penchant for contorted body positions—is authentically cat. Even non-fans of felines will charmed by this hero's unshakeable self-possession. Ages 3-7.
Reviewed on: 12/19/2005