It’s the old story: will cat and dog play, er, cat-and-mouse games—or join forces?
Officer Katz, chief cop of Kitty City and an exceptional inventor, is retiring. His goal before leaving law enforcement? To do what no cat has done before: catch Houndini, the renowned dog escape artist. Houndini’s in town for his annual performance, and Katz is determined finally to nab him. In this thin story filled with animal-themed puns whose meanings will, alas, elude younger members of the target audience (“paw-parazzi,” anyone?), storyline logic escapes as well. Children may be puzzled by the central premise that the cat needs to capture Houndini, particularly since it’s noted that the dog is welcomed every year by enraptured feline crowds. Determined to pull off his final caper, Katz utilizes one ingenious invention after another, but presto! Houndini always foils him— except for Katz’s final attempt when he unwittingly ensnares the dog in his most clever contraption. Houndini then convinces Katz they should become a team, and Katz agrees to join the traveling act, making for a somewhat satisfying, though unconvincing, ending. Broadcasting early on that Houndini’s frustrated that his act has become lackluster also means few surprises in the final scene. The cheery, lively illustrations, which feature an expressive, all-animal cast of varied species, sizes, and colors, depict an elongated, uniformed Katz and stout, mustachioed Houndini; humorous newspaper “headlines” will capture attention.
Ultimately, though mildly amusing, there’s no real magic here. (Picture book. 4-7)