THE BALLAD OF THE LONG-TAILED RAT by Charlotte Pomerantz

THE BALLAD OF THE LONG-TAILED RAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

First, abruptly: ""I'm the landlady/ Who saw the cat/ Watching the rat/ And told the landlord/ Who set the trap/ With the cheese I bought/ Which finally caught/ The long-tailed rat./ And that, rat-a-tat, is that, is that./ P.S. It's my cat."" Then in similar rhymed boasts, the landlord claims chief credit on the basis of setting the trap, the cat argues that his spotting the rat was the essential step, the cheese puts in its bid, and the trap points out that it made the actual catch. The disdainful rat, however, has the last word, revealing that only a bit of his tail was caught--and snapped off--and that this happened while he was walking away from the bad.smelling cheese. In keeping with the landlady's evident female helplessness (and we wish Pomerantz had used a child instead, thus avoiding the stereotype without shortening the chain), the artist has her preening before a mirror in a print dress, heels and a ridiculous high hairdo. With a naive-looking, skewed simplicity set off by the fussy decor, she invents similarly telling postures for all the other silly egoists who can't settle for collective credit. Both words and pictures gain in interest, with the rat's part at the end by far the choice role; still, it's hard to overcome an initial impression of artificiality.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1975
Publisher: Macmillan