cover image Poor Puppy

Poor Puppy

Nick Bruel, . . Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-270-3

The scrawny, supercilious feline from Bad Kitty is back and—quel surprise! —has no interest in playing with guileless, gangly Puppy, who appeared at the end of that title and takes center stage here. “Poor Puppy,” Bruel writes. “Poor, poor Puppy. Poor, poor, poor, poor, poor Puppy!” The book then becomes a counting/alphabet book to demonstrate that Puppy isn’t really poor—in fact he has many playthings at his disposal: “1 Airplane, 2 Balls, 3 Cars” and so on. But Puppy still wants to play with Kitty, and as he falls asleep, the book takes another trip through the alphabet—and through the world—as Puppy dreams of 26 fun activities and locales he’d like to share with his “best friend” Kitty: “Apple Bobbing in Antarctica, Baseball in Brazil, Checkers in Canada,” etc. Unfortunately, Bruel’s usually sharp sense of humor is not as evident in this sequel. The alphabet-driven catalogues of Bad Kitty were funny because they pushed the boundaries of probability when it came to Kitty’s sociopathic tendencies, her favorite foods and her equally hyperbolic acts of redemption. But despite Bruel’s colorful visual treatment of the physical activity here, the vignettes often feel inert. Even the wittiest moments—such as Puppy and Kitty playing Patty-cake in Peru—may generate fewer laughs than Kitty’s previous comedic nefariousness. Bad Kitty fans will want to take note of a new “cat-nipped” edition of that title (with a pair of large bite marks, courtesy of Kitty), due out the same month. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)