The time-worn scenario in which mouse outwits cat gets a fresh new spin.
Max, a brave, fearless kitten who prefers a superhero cape to cutesy bows, chases mice. There’s just one little problem: he doesn’t know what a mouse looks like. Going in search of one, Max encounters various unfamiliar creatures and asks who they are; each identifies itself in turn and reports on the real mouse’s whereabouts close at hand. When Max eventually meets up with Mouse, he naturally doesn’t recognize it, making it easy for the tiny would-be prey to flummox his nemesis completely by claiming to be Monster—and pointing the way to a sleeping “mouse” nearby who—surprise!—turns out to be the real monster. The narrator’s voice, expertly pulled off with dry British wit, and the childlike, quirky illustrations are the real humorous draws here. Kids will chuckle at Max’s bravado, the mouse’s blithe deception, and the intrepid hero’s antics battling the laughable monster. The short sentences move the pace along at a steady clip; the artwork, rendered mostly in black but with some splashes of bold color, is set against bright pastel-hued pages with sparse background details, keeping readers tightly focused on the action and growing tension. Both the ending and Max’s realization that bravery is only occasionally necessary are comically satisfying.
A cat-and-mouse game to be laughed at and reread. (Picture book. 3-5)