After being repeatedly thrashed at checkers, Mouse suggests to Cat a game of crazy eights. Cat insists on checkers, and Mouse huffs off homeward. Cat places an advertisement for a new best friend in the newspaper. Mole responds, but he's a chowhound who makes a hash of Cat's checkerboard. ""You cannot be a slob and be my best friend,"" Cat states. Next comes Otter, a hyperactive sportsman who causes a commotion by hurling balls around Cat's house before he is shown the door. Last comes Raccoon, a skateboarding enthusiast, who nearly kills Cat by sending him skittering into heavy traffic on a board, then laughs when Cat crashes. ""You cannot laugh at me and be my best friend."" Cat and Mouse reunite--for a game of crazy eights. Munsinger's watercolors add charm to the tale, whose ending will be clear to most preschoolers from the outset. If, as Monson (The Secret of Sanctuary Island, 1991, etc.) suggests, the making of friends is an exercise in mutual concessions, Cat is less than accommodating toward Mole and Otter (skip mean-spirited Raccoon). The final lesson is exclusionary: ""Best friend"" means the friend Cat can best tolerate in a field of rejects.