There is nothing quite like giving a goat grief. That is, after all, why they are called goats. And the young protagonist in Hale’s mostly rhymed tale drapes all manner of blame on the horns of the family goat.
"Where is your coat?" Mrs. Choat asks her son, Jimmy when he comes breezing through in his shirtsleeves. The family’s goat, Patsy Petunia Oat, answers for him—“He left it in the park”—but since the Choats didn’t speak Goat, Jimmy blithely says: “My coat? It was eaten by P. Petunia Oat.” He blames everything on her: the lost TV remote, the boogers in the tote, the baby’s broken boat, her own shaved throat. That is until the day neighbor Sproat, who happens to be fluent in Goat, provides Mr. and Mrs. Choat with the goat’s-eye view, and Jimmy sets about eating a little crow. The wordplay here is enjoyable—“On Friday, Baby Choat’s boat would not stay afloat, and Mama asked Jim, ‘Did you break Baby’s blue boat?’ The Choat goat, Patsy P. Oat, raised her head and said, ‘He hit it with a rock’ ”—and there is a neat double comeuppance at the end, though neither approach incandescence. Slack’s Photoshop/collage artwork is attractively involving, edging toward Lane Smith but stopping short of his spidery spookiness.
No matter; readers will all be rooting for P. Petunia. (Picture book. 4-8)