cover image Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty

Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty

Nick Bruel, . . Roaring Brook/Porter, $13.99 (159pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-342-7

In the second early chapter book starring this perennial sourpuss, Bad Kitty's day starts off with a special alphabetical “Birthday Breakfast” that includes Aardvark Bagels, Clam Doughnuts and Eel Fritters. Each chapter focuses on a different part of the day's festivities (Bad Kitty is excited about the prospect of presents, but less so about looking through an old photo album and decorating the house). Eventually, some aptly named guests such as Strange Kitty, Chatty Kitty and Stinky Kitty arrive, and the story becomes a whodunit when Bad Kitty's presents vanish and the prime suspect ends up being the lovable slow-wit, Puppy. The appearance of Bad Kitty's Mama, who sports a pearl necklace and a vacuous expression, offers—briefly—a softer side of the feline. Bruel has fun with the format, using footnotes, different font sizes, comedic/informative interludes about cat behavior (“Uncle Murray's Fun Facts”) and lengthy side stories that take place in corner panels to add to the story's freewheeling atmosphere. But as usual, it's Bad Kitty's unapologetic, curmudgeon nature that delivers the laugh-out-loud funny. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)