It is a truth universally acknowledged that cats in possession of a penguin must be in want of fish.
In this sprightly author-illustrator debut, three hungry red cats are inspired by a movie about fish-hunting penguins to steal one from the zoo and put it to work for them. As the cat burglars bike through the city with the penguin in a box on their bicycle rack, “[t]he penguin began to sense that he was in peril.” As luck would have it, the brave bird breaks free and lands among a flock of nuns, blending right in with their black-and-white habits. The cats don’t spot the penguin on the subway escalator behind the bowler-hatted man or in the restaurant (he looks like the tuxedo-sporting waiters), and so he makes his way back to the zoo “[j]ust in time for a fishy feast!” Justice is served with the help of a little bird who tips off the police: The cat gang is sent to jail for a lifetime of gruel. Graphic shapes in pencil and bold gouache colors not only make for striking compositions, they suggest humor in the simplest of ways. Clever details abound, like the underground map of the penguin’s escape via subway and the animals’ image-only dialogue bubbles.
The penguin in peril prevails in this fresh and funny English import. (Picture book. 4-7)