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SCRAWNY CAT by Phyllis Root


by Phyllis Root & illustrated by Alison Friend

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4164-1
Publisher: Candlewick

Delicious language and a winsome feline ensure that this new iteration of an oft-told plot will find an appreciative audience.

A terribly thin, wide-eyed orange-and-white cat has clearly fallen on hard times, though he remembers having a home. Root’s evocative description of his condition (“He was lonely. He was little. He was lost”) will tug on listeners’ heart strings. They’ll sympathize when strangers yell at him to “Get out of here!” and worry when a big dog chases him down the street of a seaside town. Luckily, a sudden storm startles the dog and sends him scurrying away. The same storm unexpectedly liberates the dinghy in which the cat has hastily hidden and sets him on the watery path to a new home. Friend’s gouache paintings, including vignettes, single pages and double page spreads, illuminate the straightforward action, starting in an old-fashioned New England port and ending up on a lovely tree-covered island. She captures the fluctuating reactions of the cat perfectly, keeping the focus on the emotional heart of the tale even when the scenery seems likely to swallow him up.

Whether they are landlubbers or seasoned sailors, readers will be pleased to meet this tenacious kitty and even happier to know he’s found cozy comfort in a home with a caring companion. (Picture book. 4-7)