Or, why cats eat rats--quietly and effectively adapted from a West Indian folk tale by an accomplished compiler/illustrator (The Ox of the Wonderful Horns, Beat the Story-Drum, Pure-Pure). This is a smallish volume (5 3/4 x 7 3/8), with russet crayon drawings of a droll dignity that itself compels attention. We first see Cat and Mouse as big and little trousered workmates, and "the best of friends." ("Uh-huh, uh-huh, they really were!") But Mouse is given to copying Cat, and when Cat's old uncle presents him with a tiny cat drum, "passed down in the family," Mouse is disgruntled at hearing he can't play it. ("I made my hut like yours, squeak, squee-eee. I played in the shade of your coconut tree. . .") So he devises a scheme to get hold of the drum--first stuffing himself with food, then feigning sickness when it's time to to out and work. But Cat, hoeing, hears the drum's purrum, purrum, purrum (a sound that, neatly, grows louder the more lightly the drum is stoked) and he eventually catches Rat out. That wily fellow saves himself by plunging the drum into Cat's open mouth--and, we're told, it has lodged safely in Cat's stomach ever since. "If you're kind to Cat," Ashley concludes--with a fetching drawing of a little boy and a big house-cat--"he'll let you play his drum. Remember, though, don't tap it or beat it, don't rap it or poke it. Just stroke Cat gently, very, very gently. Uh-huh, uh-huh!" It's an idea to capture a child's fancy, and touch a cat-lover's heart--with a measured, word-wise text satisfying to read or read aloud.