Scalawag the cat may be a little too naughty to make Santa’s “nice” list.
In a series of letters to Santa, Scalawag pleads his case that the mischief he’s been getting into isn’t all that bad. Hilarious illustrations tell otherwise. Scalawag writes “I tried every new food in front of me. I always finished my dinner,” while Beckman’s scratchy cartoons depict him getting into doughnuts, chips, and cake. His owner, Miss Violet (who keeps alive the stereotype of the middle-aged, single cat lady), always gets him catnip mice for Christmas, and he’s seen far too many of those, as he points out to Santa; this year he’d like a new “Catman and Robin” video game. His misadventures escalate. Scalawag misuses the neighbor’s sandbox and gets his head stuck in a pitcher of milk (after drinking its contents), precipitating a chain of events that doesn’t end until a toppled tree catches on fire, bringing the paramedics. Miss Violet forgives all, fortunately. Scalawag’s narrative voice is slightly snarky, and Beckman’s lightly drawn, cheerful illustrations capture the expressions of all the characters perfectly. There’s plenty of humor here, from the cat sprawled on a couch on the cover, balefully eyeing a Christmas tree with its shiny, red foil ornaments, to the endpapers covered with dozens of stuffed mice. Miss Violet is white, as is her best friend; Dr. Tim the vet is black.
An energetic Christmas countdown for kids who wonder whether they’ve been naughty or nice. (Picture book. 3-7)