cover image MR. MAXWELL'S MOUSE


Frank Asch, , illus. by Devin Asch. . Kids Can, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55337-486-2

Father-son team Frank and Devin Asch (Like a Windy Day ; Baby Duck's New Friend) here team up for a cat-and-mouse tale that showcases the younger Asch's lush digital artistic talents, alongside the elder's witty text. Lunching at the opulent Paw and Claw to celebrate his job promotion, Mr. Maxwell, a genteel black cat, forgoes his usual baked mouse for an order of mixed green salad and a main dish of raw mouse. The artist characterizes the restaurant—as well as the proportions and dress of its feline patrons—as decidedly human and upscale; he underscores the grave theme with somber shades of olive brown and rusty red. Yet he leavens the proceedings when Mr. Maxwell's entrée arrives reposing atop a slice of rye. The mouse, "bred for plumpness and politeness" (according to the headwaiter), congratulates the cat on his promotion, convinces him to purchase a glass of Beaujolais and generally becomes a too-amiable edible. Readers should soon catch onto the mouse's feigned innocence. When the cat's growing discomfort gets the best of him, the mouse persuades him to use a blindfold and substitutes the feline's tail on the plate. Even though all ends well (for the mouse, at least), some children may be uncomfortable with a few of the images: the glinting knife and fork pressed to the mouse's belly and the bloody (though not fatal) result of the cat's error. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)