Best friends Philbert (a wee mouse) and Oliver (a moon-faced orange-and-white cat) plan an elaborate picnic, but everyone knows the best-laid plans of mice and kittens often go awry.
The two gleefully load up a rolling cart with everything they might need (teacups, a tiered sandwich platter, pillows, cookies, a stuffed bear, a book, a blanket, a paper sailboat, an umbrella) and set up camp by a pond—a “perfect spot.” The sweetness of Philbert and Oliver’s interspecies friendship, their shared giddiness, and that inevitable, impending thunderclap all swirl inside readers, making their hearts swell and their chests tighten as they wait for the first raindrop to fall. Pale watercolor-and-ink illustrations describe a soft world, one with assured circular shapes everywhere (the trees’ greenery, Oliver’s head, spots, and ears, an umbrella, a bagel, cookies, and the speech bubbles). These recurring curves and Song’s pleasantly mellow mint-, orange-, and strawberry-sherbet palette create pillowy, soft illustrations. Readers therefore gasp when they arrive at a jarring double-page spread showing driving rain, Philbert’s angular face pitching over the helm of his pointy, paper boat, and the pond’s monstrous, jagged waves. Thankfully, a rescue is just one best friend and a makeshift umbrella-boat away.
Fans of Tea with Oliver (2017) will delight in watching this cat-and-mouse friendship grow, and newcomers will happily enter their amiable world of reciprocity. (Picture book. 4-8)