An affectionate farm cat and a lovable farm dog are the best of friends as youngsters, but as they grow up, they also grow apart.
An affable Chinese farmer narrates the tale. His neighbor gives the narrator and his wife a puppy named Min. Min is friendly with everyone. Rats overrun the farmhouse, so they buy a little cat, named Mu, to deal with that problem. The neighbor opines that Mu and Min can’t possibly get along, but they do, playing hide-and-seek together in the yard and sleeping wrapped around each other. As they grow up, however, they drift into a surly standoff. For a long time, the two always fight, but then something happens that changes everything: while chasing a mouse, Mu falls into a water tank and can’t get out. Min runs for help, and the farmer’s able to save the cat from drowning. From then on, Min and Mu give each other a respectfully wide berth. Now they can learn once again to be friends, the farmer muses. Shen Shixi’s subtle message, presented with a light touch, may elude younger readers, as the resolution does not look like what most kids understand as friendship, but it will leave them thinking about détente. Shen Yuanyuan’s illustrations are offbeat and attractive, featuring solid human figures and plenty of compositional motion and humor.
A provocative model of amity. (Picture book. 5-8)