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DARING DOG AND CAPTAIN CAT by Arnold Adoff

DARING DOG AND CAPTAIN CAT

By Arnold Adoff (Author) , Joe Cepeda (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-82599-4
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The idea that household pets lead more exciting lives at night than we might imagine, a popular picture book premise, gets a stylish—maybe too stylish—workout here. By day, Irving Dog and Ermine Cat come when called, meekly submit to being leashed, and eat from dishes. But “Our Children Give Us Those Names / But We Do Not Have Those Names / I n s i d e / Our / Dog / And / Cat / H e a d s.” When the lights go out, the two transform into plumed, swashbuckling rivals/allies, battling happily about the kitchen, chasing a (masked, caped) rat through the living room until they break a lamp, then sacking out to “Catch A / B r e a t h / And / Pass / A / Flea / Or / Two” until morning. Adoff’s shaped lines crank up the verbal intensity, but sometimes impose an artificial rhythm, and because every word is capitalized and heavily boldfaced, that intensity soon grows monotonous. Furthermore, in Cepeda’s roughly finished oils, Cat and Dog don’t seem to enjoy their daytime roles much, which may lead young viewers to wonder why they bother to hide their inner selves at all. Still, this will resonate with thoughtful readers who understand that, when Adoff writes of dreams and secret identities, he’s not just referring to pets. (Picture book. 6-8)