When a young girl asks her grandfather why cats have tails, his teasing responses provoke some thoughtful replies.
The opening watercolor art shows a red-haired white girl sitting on grass, petting one of six contented-looking cats of diverse breeds. Nearby sits her blonde younger sister, gently pushed on a swing by Grandpa, who has thin legs, a slight paunch, a shaggy white mustache, and casual clothes. The artfully balanced double-page spread, with white background and an expansive tree from which the swing hangs, as well as the sweet faces of everyone—even a rat on the tree branch—lure readers into a book that children will enjoy with their favorite adults. After the older granddaughter’s initial question, Grandpa first suggests, “Hmm. Maybe so that they can swing through the trees.” There follows a funny picture of a cat swinging along with surprised monkeys on a vine. The same granddaughter counters, “No, Grandpa, monkeys swing through trees.” The gentle humor continues, along with facts about how other animals use their tails. Her final response, “Maybe it’s to show that they love us,” is a bit of a letdown after her many earlier, scientific responses. Hers is in fact one of several reasons given by experts, but it creates an unnecessarily sentimental and trite ending to an otherwise charming book.
Good for a nursery bedtime story with parents or grandparents. (Picture book. 2-5)