cover image Cat Dog

Cat Dog

Mem Fox, illus. by Mark Teague. Beach Lane, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8688-1

A game of cat, dog, and mouse proves itself a meta tale in the works in this wry and original picture book. “So there was a scary dog, right?” begins Fox (Early One Morning); the text appears on the recto as an orange tabby peers over a sofa, where a beefy white dog sits snarling in a studded collar. A page turn later, a more decisive voice emerges on the verso—“No!”—resulting in a change of direction: now, a gentler, surprised-looking hound benignly eyes its back foot. As the animals engage in a classic pet-versus-mouse encounter, an assurance-seeking storytelling phrase on one page (“And the dog leapt off the couch, right?”) is followed by an affirming or refuting rejoinder on the next (“No!”)—and an attendant visual turnabout (the hound leaping is now shown snoozing on its back). Teague (Felipe and Claudette) contributes substantial, painterly acrylics that vary acrobatically from scene to scene until the two voices take a collaborative turn. With variations that unfurl in the style of David Ives’s Sure Thing, it’s a giddy, cleverly imagined rhetorical dance that promises to leave audiences’ heads spinning. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)