Three stray cats, formerly pets, try to strike it big in showbiz.
Gray-striped Hal is always hungry, calico cat Dora loves pretty things, and Geneva, pale pink and wearing a tiara, longs to live in the lap of luxury. Geneva became a stray through no fault of her own, but both Hal and Dora were abandoned (or, more accurately, evicted) by their previous owners for bad behavior. The vivid depictions of their ignominious exits from their original homes, while played for laughs, show a callousness that feels out of sync with today’s sensibilities. Once they’ve taken up residence in the same alley, the three discover a mutual fondness for “singing,” which they decide to exploit after Hal sees a newspaper notice about an American Idol–style winner making it big. Barrett keeps the text brief, using details of his distinctly retro cartoon illustrations to add humor and explicate the plot. On one page, the bluebird pictured in a painting that graces one wall in Hal’s old home changes expression in response to his attack; on another, Geneva’s former owner reads reviews panning her most recent performance.
Despite light touches, the cavalier abandonment of the cats, the satiric spoofing of the cats’ ambitions and their naïve satisfaction with their “success” create a disappointingly mean-spirited tone overall. (Picture book. 4-7)