Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Life With A Cat, Life With A Dog

Every single night I say I love you before falling asleep.  Every single morning I say I'm glad we get to share another day together.  Not for the first time I hope my dog understands what I am saying.  I also wish she would tell me why it takes so long to find the perfect spot.  I want to know why she stands still in below zero temperatures in a blinding snow storm, pouring rain or with seemingly hundreds of mosquitoes swarming around us, to catch a whiff of every single scent in the air.  I hope she knows how thankful I am when her sniffing keeps us out of danger.

Without the gift of speech it's a guessing game as to the moods of our pets.  Is it the full moon?  Is it the drop in barometric pressure?  What is making them crazy?  Something has one crabby cat whipped into a frenzy in Nick Bruel's latest title, BAD KITTY: Puppy's BIG DAY (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Book Press, January 6, 2015).

In case it's not obvious, Kitty is in a very, very


bad mood today.
And nobody knows why.

This case of increased crankiness tops all others and is cause for calling in reinforcements.  It's up to Uncle Murray to save the day taking Puppy for a stroll.  In their haste to leave the house (Bad Kitty freaks out.), Puppy's leash is forgotten. 

A warning from an unseen police officer and one ticket later, Uncle Murray decides to use his belt for a leash.  (Oh, boy...I am sensing another problem with this choice.) Before Uncle Murray can even attach the belt, a discovery is made and a deposit is left, prompting another ticket.  This is not Uncle Murray's day for catching a break.  Ticket number three is issued upon their arrival at the wrong park with no dog license and the reveal of the pattern on Uncle Murray's boxer shorts.

The correct park, the designated dog park, is reason for celebration but a female dog with love on her mind creates all kinds of problems including Uncle Murray climbing a tree for safety and the disappearance of the canine duo.  Uh! Oh!  Animal Control nabs them and it's into doggy jail they go.  Two other current residents, an old timer who constantly repeats his name and a whippersnapper with outrageous plans for escape, keep Puppy and the affectionate bulldog busily engaged in conversation.

At the exact moment when the flame of hope is nearly out, Uncle Murray shouts out his entrance.  His appearance cannot have been timed better.  A hairless cat attendant and mouse assistant help with the paperwork.  Wait a minute!  Uncle Murray came looking for Puppy.  How many dogs does he have now?

By page two (six) readers will be smiling at the descriptive narrative penned by Nick Bruel.  By page twelve (sixteen) the outbursts of laughter will start in earnest.  By page forty (forty-four) you will be hard pressed not to be rolling on the floor unable to control the gasping giggles.  Nick Bruel portrays the human canine relationship perfectly in all the nitty-gritty details. 

The two-page asides by Bad Kitty, discourses if you will, on 

Why Do Dogs Need To Be Walked?
Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? and
Why Do Dogs Lick Faces?

are hilarious.  Within the story of a dog-walking day gone wrong, Bruel includes a gentle message about life for dogs placed in a shelter.  He gives us the human, canine and feline perspective with masterful flair.  Here are two more sample passages.

WHOA! That was intense! We were lucky to get out of there alive, pooch!  Sometimes I'm not convinced she really is a cat.  I'm thinking she's more like a weird cross between an electric eel and a howler monkey. (Uncle Murray)

But not dogs.  Dogs need to be walked at least twice a day so that they can relieve themselves anywhere and everywhere they want regardless of the weather outside.  It could be raining baseball bats and you'll STILL have to take that dog outside for the privilege of picking up his droppings with a bag.  Lucky you. (Bad Kitty)

The look of total drooling bliss on Puppy's face with Bad Kitty glaring in the background on the book case gives readers a ready glimpse as to the tone of this title.  Nick Bruel's black and white illustrations heighten his text; for each of the four introductory sentences describing Bad Kitty's current mood

The Daily Nooz

headlines with snippets of the article accentuate each statement.  His narrative says one thing but his images explain it even further.  For the two simple words 

Too late.

two pages with four pictures visualize Bad Kitty on the tear with Puppy loving the chase.  

The layout and design have the words merging with the illustrations flawlessly generating the tempo of the story.  Bruel alters his picture size and the viewpoint depending on the plot point.  It's the facial expressions and body movements of all the characters which bind readers to these books.  

One of my many favorite pictures is of Uncle Murray petting Puppy's head in front of the counter at the shelter.  He is on his way back into the kennels.  At the counter the hairless cat attendant in a top hat, wearing a collared shirt with a tie, is being asked a question by the mouse.

I was in the bathroom.  What did I miss?

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that fans of the series are going to read this book over and over, delighting in the text and illustrations.  Dog lovers are going to be howling with total glee.  BAD KITTY Puppy's BIG DAY written and illustrated by Nick Bruel is full of fun from beginning to end.  

To learn more about Nick Bruel and his other work, please visit his website by following the link embedded in his name.  Make sure you stop by the web pages devoted to the Bad Kitty books. Here is a fabulous interview of Nick Bruel by author and blogger Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Enjoy the video.

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