The rare—and therefore lucky—male calico’s human family, John and Kyle, take him from their home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to Chicago with talk of fighting zombies. Chicago native Anderson’s renderings of the Charlotte airport and Chicago cityscape capture the essence of these settings from the cat’s point of view. The chatty text, though overly wordy for a picture book, conveys the feline narrator’s personality and mood. Looking out their hotel window, for instance, Toos comes eye to eye with, not zombies, but pigeons and rambles, “I glared at them….They just sat there! HUH?!?...Charlotte birds would have been scared of me, and flown off. Maybe these pigeons were used to scary zombies and I’m not scary enough!” Anderson’s illustrations, especially the one of Toos having a staring contest with three green-headed pigeons against a backdrop of Chicago skyscrapers, will entrance kids. After psyching himself up to be a scary Zombie-Fighting-Ninja-Cat, Toos is upset to be left in a carrier while John and Kyle go off to fight zombies. He escapes from his cage and comes face to face with a green-faced girl zombie—and runs outside in terror. Young readers will identify with his disappointment in himself: “Zombie-Fighting-Ninja-Cat? Really? More like I was a Scaredy Cat!” But when Toos sees John and Kyle running toward a giant, shiny bean (readers in the know will recognize this iconic sculpture in Millennium Park) with a horde of zombies behind them, he attacks them all, sending them running and yelling. Then he realizes John and Kyle are also yelling—for him to stop—and Chris, the director, yells, “Cut!” Instead of thinking Toos had ruined the movie, though, the director exclaims how real the cat’s attack made it look. The movie wins an award and Toos sums up, “Cool, huh? I’m a movie star. Told you I was lucky!”
Young zombie-crazed readers who discover this happy pairing of dramatic narrative and engaging illustrations will consider themselves lucky as well.