THE CAT WHO INVENTED BEBOP by Marshall Arisman

THE CAT WHO INVENTED BEBOP

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Age Range: 5 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Arisman crafts a nuanced story depicting (literally and figuratively) a sax-playing, Delta-born cat named Stringbean McCoy. After apprenticing to a street blues guitarist, Stringbean heads to New York City. Sitting in with a house band, he knows he needs to ante up to earn the musicians’ respect. Daringly, he slips off his shoes and, while front paws play the band’s tune, his hind paws play “Mississippi Blues.” Stringbean’s innovations electrify the room. Arisman riffs playfully on notions of “cool” and “square” cats—the latter receive cubist treatments amid the hipper denizens of the NYC scene. The milk-sipping, humanoid cats (plus occasional dogs and monkeys) move within Expressionist cityscapes. Bright interiors of red and yellow spill against the street’s blue-grays. While the text snappily conveys the vibrancy of bebop, the design poorly serves both words and pictures. The font is tiny, the leading too wide. The layout is all over the place: Spots, gratuitous, colored borders, full-bleed double spreads, three-quarter spreads and the occasional, arbitrary use of matte silver paper jostle incoherently, subverting Arisman’s intriguing visual metaphors and well-tuned ear for his subject. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-56846-152-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2008