The puffy gray cat introduced in Naughty Cherie (illustrated by Mark Graham, 2008) learns to share her space and her humans.
Cherie’s family leaves the house, promising to return with a surprise. She hopes it’s tuna treats…but it’s Cleopatra, a kitten. “Her legs were very short and her tail was thin—not at all like Cherie’s big, fluffy tail. She did not have soft, long, gray fur like Cherie but very short, smooth, shiny fur.” Cherie does not like anything about Cleopatra, but young human JoJo and her parents think the little cutie can do no wrong, even when she’s making a mess. Cherie runs away, but after being treated shabbily by several wild animals (most of whom she would eat or be eaten by in reality), she returns home to snuggle, purring, with Cleopatra and JoJo. Award-winning novelist Oates throws down an astonishingly clumsy new-sibling picture book, wordy paragraphs displaying no trust whatsoever in her illustrator to help shoulder the narrative load. Mottram’s mostly realistic, soft-edged, digitally created illustrations are attractive, but his manga-eyed cats only serve to boost the treacle factor. Readers tempted by the title and the author’s reputation will be sorely disappointed—Susin Nielsen and Olivia Chin Mueller’s recent Princess Puffybottom…and Darryl (2019) is ears and tails better than this.
An oft-told tale told poorly. (Picture book. 2-6)