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by James Howe & illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7636-2404-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Houndsley, a good cook, and Catina, a misguided memoirist, pursue goals out of step with their true natures in this humorous beginning reader, the first of a series. Extroverted Catina, bent on fame and prizes, produces 74 chapters of terrible autobiography, a fact that Houndsley can’t bring himself to point out. When Catina persuades her limelight-loathing friend to enter a cooking contest, he panics at the crowds and botches a favorite recipe. Later, contemplating fireflies together, Houndsley realizes that for him, cooking well is its own reward, while Catina resolves to come by her fame honestly, by finding and practicing something she loves to do. Gay’s pale watercolor-and-pencil illustrations include small, appealing details and amusing facial expressions. The front endpaper is decorated with the pattern on Catina’s collaged dress, while the back endpaper echoes Houndsley’s pants. Howe competently mixes the format’s conventions—friends of the opposite sex, serial adventures in short chapters and a few kid-friendly object lessons. A pleasantly seasoned potboiler. (Easy reader. 5-8)