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If Not for the Cat (Horn Book Fanfare List (Awards))

If Not for the Cat (Horn Book Fanfare List (Awards))
Author: Jack Prelutsky
ISBN 13: 9780060596774
ISBN 10: 60596775
Edition: First Edition
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: 2004-09-21
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 40
List Price: $17.99

A creature whispers:

If not for the cat,
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.

Who is this creature?
What does it like to eat?
Can you solve the riddle?

Seventeen haiku composed by master poet Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by renowned artist Ted Rand ask you to think about seventeen favorite residents of the animal kingdom in a new way. On these glorious and colorful pages you will meet a mouse, a skunk, a beaver, a hummingbird, ants, bald eagles, jellyfish, and many others. Who is who? The answer is right in front of you. But how can you tell? Think and wonder and look and puzzle it out!

Publishers Weekly

At once elegant and droll, this fine collaboration spotlights various animals through 17 haiku, each set against a stunning full-spread, close-range illustration of the featured creature in its natural habitat. Author and artist tip their hats to Eastern traditions with the poetic form and with mix-media compositions that echo Chinese silkscreen. The book takes its title from the first line of the inaugural poem ("If not for the cat,/ And the scarcity of cheese,/ I could be content"), and Rand's (Here Are My Hands) wry image of a mouse looking out from the darkness that dominates the spread, safe behind the wall, to the whiskered snout of a cat perched by the mouse hole, provides ideal accompaniment. By contrast, the brilliantly lit scene that follows highlights a glorious tangle of nasturtiums visited by a hummingbird. Prelutsky's (Scranimals) versatile verse adopts a pleasing range of first-person voices. Against a symphony of blues, the words of the jellyfish emulate its motion as it seems to swim across the spread ("Boneless, translucent,/ We undulate, undulate,/ Gelatinously"). A moth asks ponderously, "How foolish I am./ Why am I drawn to the flame/ Which extinguishes?"; Rand visually links the color of the moth with the halo around the candle, making its attraction seem inevitable. Though it's not difficult to identify the critters (specified on the final page), younger children especially will have fun naming each species. Deceptive in their simplicity, these haiku will send aspiring wordsmiths off to try their own. Ages 3-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.