cover image The Cat Came Back: A Traditional Song

The Cat Came Back: A Traditional Song

Bill Slavin. Albert Whitman & Company, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-1097-1

Slavin's illustrated version of the traditional song about a cat whose owner can't get rid of him is full of verve and an irresistible quirkiness. When this feline is sent off in a hot air balloon, the lyrics indicate only that he ``came back,'' but the illustrations show him returning in a spaceship with green cheese from the moon. Old Mister Johnson puts his pet on ``an ocean liner going far, far away,'' but the unflappable creature shows up the next day sporting Hawaiian tourist garb. And so it goes: cat is sent away, cat cunningly returns. At book's end, the contented yellow critter (having made his final reappearance in a yellow cab) watches TV beside his bemused owner, kittens happily wriggling about them. The music for the song is conveniently included at the back of the book, but what will make youngsters want to ``come back'' repeatedly to this infectious ditty are Slavin's jaunty illustrations that wittily amplify the humor. Ages 6-11. (Dec.)