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Alfred was tired of all the noise the children made. The liver patties seemed hard to chew. His old injury was acting up. 'Time for a vacation,' Alfred said."" And so Alfred, an aging cat, crosses the meadow, stopping once to rescue a kitten from the stream but declining other animals' invitations to play. At last Alfred comes to a rusty, vine-covered old car. ""'What a good place for a vacation,' he thought. . . And he curled up and went to sleep."" The last sentence states that the kitten is now drinking milk from the dish Alfred left -- and on the next double page the old car, now almost completely hidden by vegetation except for two eye-like holes over the front windshield, seems to blend into the natural scenery. This is a far less explicit treatment of death than that of Judith Viorst's The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (1971, p. 805, J-291). There is room of course for both approaches and Shecter's subtle, accomplished pictures generally reinforce the accepting tone -- except for those hollow eyes on the last page. Though something can be said for acknowledging the mysteriousness of death, the text has not prepared us for these reverberations which are especially out of tune with the unduly euphemistic references to Alfred's planned ""vacation."" In an undertaking of this sort tone is everything, and Shecter's evident sensitivity makes these incongruities all the more regrettable.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday