A dog and cat go astray and meet other animals in this children’s book.
Lexi is a well-mannered, intelligent, black-and-white cat who enjoys purring in her chair by a window. A flighty adventure is the last thing on her mind—but then her nap is interrupted by barking from Barney, a beagle who also has black-and-white fur, and who’s “not the brightest dog in Lawrenceville.” After joining her friend outside, Lexi agrees to scratch an itch that Barney can’t reach, but her claws get stuck in his collar. Just then, the dog catches sight of a gray squirrel and takes off up the alley, dragging poor Lexi with him. The beagle tears recklessly after the squirrel, even crossing a two-lane highway, but the squirrel eludes him, and by the time Barney is done with his chase, he and Lexi are hopelessly lost. As they wander, they meet Abby, a dog looking for her family’s cat, Chunk. Lexi and Barney leave her behind and make their way to an alley, where they enjoy some scraps and run into Chunk, to whom they pass along Abby’s message to return home. Later, Lexi is captured by a man in a red pickup truck who puts her in a cage, but Barney hops into the truck’s back and lets her out. They both escape, and after following familiar scents, they manage to make their way home. Fox (The Adventures of Marky, Slash & Levy, 2014) brings out the personalities of his animal characters well. Lexi speaks with formality and politesse, thinks ahead, and dislikes getting dirty; Barney is enthusiastic, down to earth, and rarely thinks beyond the present moment. There’s sweetness, too, as with the kind restaurant owner: “ ‘There you go darlings,’ said the man as he sat the plates in the alley. ‘Eat up.’ ” The animal catchers add a dramatic note of danger, along with the less dramatic but very real threat of getting run over by vehicles. (The Humane Society of the United States, it should be noted, recommends keeping cats indoors and giving dogs escape-proof shelter.) Otherwise, though, the friends’ adventure isn’t especially memorable, consisting mostly of wandering and a few chance encounters with other animals, which are pleasant but uneventful.
A mild story with good characterization.