Friday, September 10, 2010

One Cat Over the Line: That Cat Can't Stay by Thad Krasnewsky

It's an old story. The kids find a lost animal. It's cute, it's needy, but one parent says "No way. No how. No pet today." And the other parent points out the poor animal's plight. In front of a big-eyed kid or two or three, what parent wants to look like an inhumane ogre?

"You're right again," Mom said to Dad.
"And I won't cry or get too sad
Just thinking of this little cat
And how a car might squash her flat.
Abandoned in a parking lot,
'Slim chance to none' is what she's got"

"Dad said, "Well,...We'll show her picture 'round
And put up posters saying FOUND.
Now kids, sit down and stop your yay-ing.
This cat's NOT--you hear!--NOT STAYING!"

Uh-huh! And as the family accumulates one, two, three, four, and then five cats, poor dad finds his favorite chair has become a feline lair upholstered with cat hair. With the innate ability of cats to make for the one person in the room who secretly doesn't like them, he finds himself covered with cats whenever he sits down--a tabby, a tuxedo, a ginger Tom and a calico, and even a gray socksie cat--to the great joy of Mom and the kids. But not to dad, who futilely laments...

"I don't like cats. They scratch my knees.
They carry fleas. They make me sneeze.
They eat my cheese. They hairball wheeze.
They're always getting stuck in trees!"

Sometimes a man has to put his foot down. Sometimes a man has to make a statement. Sometimes a man has to--get a dog! And that's what Dad does.

Dad said, "Look what I found,
All sad and lonely at the pound."
And we were happy to discover
...Daddy is a doggy lover!

Thad Krasnesky's bouncy rhyming couplets and David Perkins' clever cartoon illustrations make That Cat Can't Stay (Flashlight Books, 2010) a pleasure to read aloud and to hear. Kids will giggle at Mom's clever guilt tripping of the bossy but soft-hearted dad and will quickly pick up on his plaintive refrain as each sad kitty's case is pleaded before him. Dog lovers, cat lovers, and even (horrors!) cat shunners will find something to laugh at in this one.

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