A three-legged cat shows he’s even more capable of mischief than the other pets in his house in this good-humored, mostly rhyming debut from Lindsay, with illustrations by picture-book veteran Nacaytuna (Note Cards for Everyone from Tiny Hands, 2018, etc.).
With an image that shows the face of the orange-and-white tabby cat, the opening poem advises readers that they may find Pussninks to be different but encourages them to look through his eyes. Pussninks has only three legs, though the angle of the illustration de-emphasizes this. Throughout, Pussninks shows his energy and cleverness. He greets the postman, steals the dog’s food, snatches Grandad’s fish from the table, etc. Illustrations accompany each rhyming stanza; additional short, nonrhyming sentences and illustrations add extra details to the scenes but break up the rhythm of the text. Briticisms (the fellow cat and mouse are “quite cross”; Pussninks is described as “no different to any other cat”) will introduce young Americans to new phrasings. Newly independent readers may struggle with challenging vocabulary words (“impressed,” “admiration”) in the shorter sentences, which interrupt the poetry rather than compliment it. Nacaytuna’s pencil illustrations of the cat are lovely, but the flat digital backgrounds give a jarring contrast to the soft-textured fur. Finally, the subtle representation of Pussninks’ difference, which doesn’t hold him back one whit, is a welcome message. A photograph is included of the real cat that Pussninks is based on.
Pussninks’ hijinks are enjoyable but undermined by the odd structure and strangely constructed illustrations.