This little cat’s luck turns out to be dependent on the kindness of strangers, and that, most satisfyingly, connects back to her own unerring kindness.
In free verse that cascades down the pages in short lines—ever so inviting to newly fledged independent readers—Bauer deftly navigates inside cat Patches’ adventures after she darts from her cherished home to chase a tumbling leaf. Lost and desperately hungry, she nevertheless spares the life of a tiny captured mouseling who has the courage to ask, “Please!” As Patches realizes, “Making conversation with your dinner / is never / a good idea. / It makes the first bite / so very / hard / to take.” Patches in turn is aided by a huge, lonely (and therefore mean) dog, Gus, who spends his pathetic life alone in the yard. It’s in his doghouse that Patches gives birth to three unexpected kittens. True, it’s all been done before, this clever manipulation of print, extending words down—and sometimes up—a page to reflect their action. But Bauer is a master of that skill and crafts, with remarkably little text, memorable, fully understandable characters with achingly real worries and sorrows. Patches' ultimate understanding of Gus’ needs is enchanting, appropriate for a tale that’s as much a gentle parable as it is a novel. Bell’s softly shaded illustrations are a perfect accompaniment.
Excellent for young readers and all cat lovers. (Verse fiction. 7-12)