A stick child investigates a disappearance.
The family parakeet is missing, and the pet cat is the prime suspect. The indignant child presses the blue kitty with more and more questions, but readers will spot the parakeet perched on the interrogator’s head from the get-go. The text is presented in undistinguished rhyming couplets: “Did you eat the parakeet? / He was right there on his tiny seat! // He was singing a tune just an hour ago. / Did you eat him? I want to know!” The scratchy illustrations are spare, colored in pastel hues and placed on a white backdrop. The child has a large round head perched on a rectangle that seems to stand in as a dress, with stick arms and legs and small ovals for hands and feet; the child is pale-skinned and has long, straight, dark hair. This picture book is a bit of a one-trick bird, tipping its hand regarding the fowl’s location too early and drawing out the discovery for far too long. The compositions don’t change enough to engage the readers, and the rhyming couplets only stretch so far, leaving readers clinging to details—changes in the cat’s expression, the pink mouse that sits in the protagonist’s pocket—for something to keep them going as the extremely slight story unfolds.
A long-winded and unappealing case. (Picture book. 3-5)