ALEX AND THE CAT by Helen V. Griffith


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Stories about animal characters accepting their own identities and natures are a dime a dozen, but this trio of episodes does everything right. First, and most familiarly, Alex the dog decides he would rather be a cat. ""Cats can do just as they please,"" says Alex. ""And they don't do tricks""--a distinction that is verified when Robbie, the little boy, comes along to feed his two pets. But after trying a cat's dozing life, Alex finds it boring. His conclusion applies as well for children putting infancy behind: ""Being a dog is not easy, Alex said to himself, but it's interesting."" That established, Alex learns the limits of his tolerance for a too-interesting life: In the second episode he decides to live in the wilderness, like wolves; but one night out in the cold with the cat changes his mind. ""Weren't you afraid?"" asks Alex at one point when the cat has fought back at a swooping owl, and the cat, no slouch himself but a wise and laconic companion, answers, ""I was afraid in my own way."" So, when Alex brags later, ""Just think, I almost ran away with the wolves,"" the snug cat purrs, ""You almost did in your own way."" And now that Alex has established his own outlines, he can progress in the final chapter to concern for a baby bird that needs its mother--again, a common picture-book subject that Griffith treats from a new perspective (the dog's) as one part of a skillfully faceted picture.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1982
Publisher: Greenwillow