#31 – City Dog and Country Cat: and So We Meet Again! by Michelle Hall

4 STARS

This is a picture book written by Michelle Hall with illustrations by Dawn Phillips.  It is the story of Frisky and her journey back to her best friend Sassy.  Because of a lack of space, Nick’s mother no longer wants a bunch of cats in their apartment.  Nick puts the four cats, kittens really, and sets off to find a good home.  Farmer Bob has gone into town.  He sees Nick, wanders over, and laughs.

Inside the basket, curled up to the black cat, is Sassy.  Sassy is a dog, specifically a Pomeranian.  Nick thinks Sassy (City Dog), snuck in to be with his best friend, the black cat (Country Cat).  Farmer Bob tells Nick he will take all four cats, thinking his two granddaughters would love them.  He promises to give the cats a good, loving home.

Farmer Bob’s two granddaughters, twins Nancy and Katie, adore the cats.  They name Sassy’s friend Frisky and take very good care of all four cats.  One day Katie spills juice on a favorite sweater, so she places it in a basket of dirty clothes.  Sometime later, no one can find Frisky.  He is often more interested in whatever new adventure he is on, rather than answering the dinner bell.  Katie finds Frisky playing in the same basket she had placed her favorite sweater.

Poor Frisky, he thought he was playing, having fun pulling the threads of yarn in the sweater.  Katie does not agree.  She screams, tells everyone she hates Frisky, and from then on Katie is “very mean” to him.  She deliberately feeds the other three cats Frisky’s favorite food, and then makes him eat things he did not like.  When it rains outside, Katie lets the other three cats into the warm, dry house while keeping Frisky out in the cold, biting rain.

Frisky can only take so much.  He makes plans to runaway but ends up lost in the woods.  Several days go by without anything to eat and Frisky is so hungry he could even eat the terrible food Katie fed him.  Lucky for Frisky he finds a dirt road that leads him to a large farmhouse.

Nick and his friends are playing outside.  He recognizes the black cat, as does Sassy, who busts out the door to greet her best friend.  Nick’s mother decides they can keep the cat, since they now live on a farm.  Frisky is happy to finally have a nice home with his friend Sassy.

The story is cute and well thought out.  It reminds me of the movie Homeward Bound: the Incredible Journey.  I would have liked more dialogue and less narration.  For a picture book aimed at young children, the pages are too wordy.  The characters have no voice to differentiate them.  Dialogue would accomplish this.

We are told Nancy has a “gentle spirit,” yet never get to see that side of her or any side really.  Where did Nancy go after her introduction to us?  Where was she when Katie was being so mean to Frisky?  Where was Farmer Bob?  The narrator tells us Katie is “strong-willed.”  No, Katie is mean, simply a mean child.

On the last page, after the story has ended, there is a short poem.  I am not sure why, it does not add to the story.  Maybe there was an unexpected extra page to fill.  It sounds like the narrator is trying to get the last word.  Kids that read this will find a new catch phrase: “And That’s a Fact!”

The illustrations are in color and many are adorable.  My favorite is Frisky in a soap bubble, eyes wide, and paws flared.  For me, the coloring of that illustration is perfect.  Sassy often has her teeth bared, which makes her look mean.  Maybe it is suppose to be her smiling.  Kids will like these two characters and I am guessing they will be back soon.  I would like that, too.  And that’s a fact!

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2 thoughts on “#31 – City Dog and Country Cat: and So We Meet Again! by Michelle Hall

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