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CATFISH KATE AND THE SWEET SWAMP BAND by Sarah Weeks

CATFISH KATE AND THE SWEET SWAMP BAND

By Sarah Weeks (Author) , Elwood H. Smith (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: May 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-4026-5
Publisher: Atheneum

When Catfish Kate plays her banjo in the moonlight, the sky fills with giant musical notes and the girl musicians of the swamp chime in. Page by page, Kate’s band expands as newt, snake, bugs and gator, sporting gender-identifying ruffles, gather to jam: “Hum strum / rattle-rattle / tootle-ootle croon / scritch-scratch / zing zang / underneath the moon.” Unfortunately, Skink and his Skunktail Boys have come to the swamp that night to read quietly (The Nose Knows and Stinker Belle), and the “tootle-ootle croon” does not charm them. When a “squabble, bicker, differ, feud” ensues, Catfish Kate proposes a compromise (“Psst, what’s a compromise? I don’t know, do you?” asks one skunk). She angrily suggests that the Skunk Boys stuff cattail fluff in their ears to muffle the “noise” of her sweet swamp music, they calmly acquiesce and peaceful coexistence is thus achieved. While the story feels slight and the resolution oddly one-sided for a book about compromise, Smith’s visually cacophonous, roughly hewn watercolor-and-ink cartoons are nothing if not energetic, and the singsong rhyme will have swamp toes a-tapping. (Picture book. 3-6)