Purrrrfect! Bad Kitty School Daze by Nick Bruel
"WELL, PETS, MY NAME IS DIABLA VAN GLOOM. BUT I WANT YOU TO CALL ME MISS DEE. WELCOME TO MY SCHOOL. SCHOOL, AS YOU KNOW, IS A PLACE WHERE YOU GO TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW.
I DON'T BELIEVE IN "NAUGHTY" OR "CONFUSED" OR "BAD" PETS. I BELIEVE YOU ARE GOOD PETS, AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT."
"FEH" mutters Bad Kitty.
Yet another pool of Puppy's drool on the head of a sleeping Bad Kitty has brought on a hissing, spitting, woofing, chasing cat-dog fight which results in Baby's falling and bawling.
In the words of the legendary Miss Nelson, "Something must be done."
It's off on the big yellow bus (driven, not surprisingly, by Uncle Murray) to obedience school for wayward pets, where they are met by their teacher, Diabla Von Gloom. But Ms. Van Gloom is no Cruella Deville. She is the quintessential persistently and perkily positive preschool-type teacher. She co-opts Kitty's pique by complimenting her on her LOVE LOVE ANGEL KITTEN backpack, and sits them down for Circle Time.
But Bad Kitty's classmates are not promising.
"NO ONE GOES BEFORE DR. LAGOMORH! I'M A DIABOLICAL MUTANT SUPERVILLAIN!" spouts a Darth Vader masked bunny. "That's no excuse, little bunny. Sit down and wait your turn," says Miss Dee, firmly
"I HATE CATS!"
proclaims Petunia, a burly and belligerent bulldog, launching into a tirade detailing the mayhem she wants to do to any cat she meets. Bad Kitty is intimidated, but as always, she is quick to think on her paws.
"I HEAR YA, COW SISTER," says Petunia, giving Kitty a
While the mutant Dr. Lagomorph continues to mumble on about his superpowers, Miss Dee moves on to the day's activities--Arts and Crafts, where Puppy produces a professional-looking painting and Bad Kitty produces a... paw print, and Show and Tell, where Kitty produces a... hairball.
"I DID NOT KNOW COWS COULD DO THAT," puts in Peturnia.
Then it's time to move on to a bit of bibliotherapy in the form of Storytime, with a fantasy tale of Love Love Angel Kitten finding love for her Baby and Puppy and Peace in the Home.
Bad Kitty's response to all these skill-building, self-esteem producing activities?
"NOT COOL, COW SISTER," says Petunia.
At the end of the day, Bad Kitty is the only wayward pet to flunk obedience school. After a chastened Mutant Supervillian Bunny, her co-pet Puppy, who has learned to wear his drool bandana and slurp up his drool with his tongue, and Petunia, who has learned to love Kitty even though she's a cat, are dismissed with diplomas, Bad Kitty alone remains behind with Miss Dee:
"Do you know", says Miss Dee, ... I learned that you're not such a bad kitty. I learned that ... "I'm very proud to have been your teacher."
Seeing a new Bad Kitty book on the rack is a happy moment, yet one of wondering if Nick Bruel can possibly do it again. Yes! He can! It's classic Bad Kitty in Bruel's just published Bad Kitty School Daze (Roaring Brook, 2013), another graphic beginning chapter books with laugh-out-loud comic genius that's so much fun to read aloud that parents will be loathe to hand it over to the the adamant beginning chapter reader for whom it is intended. Bruel brilliantly parodies many well-worn trophs from the cartoon (and real) world, while giving his Uncle Murray's Fun Facts pages the job of explaining the animal behavior psychology behind cat-dog rivalry and accommodation. A week after its publication, this one is already a best-seller, and rightly so--a wonderful remedy for those winter blah blues. As Publishers Weekly puts it, "Throughout, Bruel has fun defying readers' expectations," and readers will be glad he does.