A pet cat demonstrates typical feline behavior.
The orange and pink fish swimming in the fishbowl fascinate Max, pictured as a blue cat with black stripes. He is easily distracted, however, so his first foray to get the fish ends quickly when he takes a detour up the patio-door screen in pursuit of a lizard. The fact that he then pulls the curtains down on the dog’s head results in a comical tally: “Max, one. Dog, none.” The distractions (and the scorekeeping) continue. Max chases a catnip toy, battles a basket of socks, and pounces on a swinging shoestring. After each diversion, he returns to the fishbowl. His eventual assault appears to be successful, but the final reckoning reassures readers that the fish have survived to swish another day. Rollicking rhymes and playful language create an admiring third-person narrative that perfectly captures Max’s energy and charm. The typeface, which mimics painted block printing, adds personality and enhances the humor. Dullaghan’s illustrations suggest a spare, mid-20th-century modern home; lots of white space keeps the focus on the bouncy main character’s amusing antics. Textured brush strokes add to the sense of movement, while simply drawn features convey a wealth of emotion (even in the case of the unflappable fish).
Clearly a paean to the pleasures of having a cat companion, this catalog of Max’s actions should win plenty of accolades: Max, a million; readers a million-plus. (Picture book. 5-8)