Sunday, August 17, 2008

School Days!: Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton

It was early in the morning and Splat the cat was wide awake.

Today was his first day at Cat School.

Who hasn't experienced those early morning, first-day-of-school jitters. Kindergarten kids have them. Ninth graders have them. College freshmen have them. Believe me, teachers have them in spades!

And, if we are to believe Rob Scotton's brand-new and timely picture book, Splat the Cat, cats have them, too.

Splat's eyes pop wide open even before it's time to get up for his first day of school. He tries everything to postpone the big day.

"I don't have any clean socks, Mom!" he yells. "Maybe I should go to school tomorrow."

"You don't wear socks," says his mom

Mom gets him through a plea of a bad fur day with a bit of judicious combing and a jar of fur gloop. "Purr-fect," she quips.

"I'm going to need a friend," Splat mutters as he packs his snacks, plopping his pet mouse Seymour inside his new red lunchbox for backup.

At school the empathetic Mrs. Wimpydimple starts right out to build the new students' self esteem.

"All cats are amazing. Cats climb trees, drink milk, and chase mice."

"Why do we chase mice?" asks Splat.

"It's what we do," replies Mrs. Wimpydimple.

"Why? Why? Why?" repeats Splat.

"Because." says Mrs. Wimpydimple. "Time for lunch."

This diversion only works briefly. When Splat opens his lunchbox and Seymour pops out in the middle of the cats--well, they do what they've learned cats do--chase poor Seymour! But when Seymour jumps behind a thick glass jar, his magnified leer terrifies the inexperienced mousers and puts an end to the mouse hunt. Then, when the door to the milk cupboard is stuck and there's no milk for the lunch break, Seymour proves that mice are also amazing--especially in squeezing into tight places to open doors from the inside! It's milk all around for the ex-mouse chasers in Splat's class.

Splat and Seymour find that they have a lot of new friends, and the second day of school is already looking a whole lot better.

Rob Scotton's edgy illustrations of Splat the quirky cat are a real hoot, and his positive message about surviving the first day of school should help ease that first-day anxiety.

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