cover image The Cat Barked?

The Cat Barked?

Lydia Monk, Lydia Monks. Dial Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2338-2

Envy may be one of the seven deadly sins, but first-timer Monks offers a funny, pointed and visually sublime exegesis on the subject. ""I wish I were a dog,"" grumbles an almost fluorescent marmalade cat who grudgingly shares a home with a Scottie. ""Dogs have all the fun."" Cats, after all, don't get to romp in the park with their owners and they can't bark; dogs, meanwhile, ""guard the house,/ They can catch crooks,/ And they're always the heroes/ in movies and books."" But the cat's owner, a bright-eyed girl with orange pigtails that radiate from her full-moon head, counters with some powerful arguments: What self-respecting cat would want to fetch? And who naps or cuddles in a lap more expertly than a feline? Self-acceptance prevails--for the cat at least; as the book closes, the Scottie finds himself so persuaded by the girl's reasoning that he now wishes he were a cat. Monks matches the snappiness of her rhyming text with zippy, full-bleed art. Witty soup ons of paper, photo and cloth collage enhance the strong shapes and saturated colors of her endearingly goofy characterizations; the zaniness is lightly but expertly controlled, and the pictures pop off the page. Pure fun all the way. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)