Friday, December 20, 2013

Tale of Two Kitties: Bits and Pieces by Judy Schachner

For a cat, Tink was an Odd Duck.

Perhaps it was because he had been raised by a grannyman.

Or maybe it was because his brain was the size of a frozen pe

In her latest cat tale, Bits & Pieces (Dial Books, 2013), author-illustrator Judy Schachner brings back Tink, the tiny kitten cared for by an old tomcat, The Grannyman , who gives him to a family with two little girls to keep. They love their kitty boy to bits and pieces, but they can't help noticing that Tink is, well, a few bites short of a bowlful of kibble.

He tries to eat strange things--a plastic pool noodle, a flip-flop, and even a Slinky--and winds up at the Kitty Klinic, returning home little wiser for the wear, and remembering only the exhilarating vision of the outside world. And when the girls peer into each ear, they confirm their suspicion that their kitty boy has nothing between the ears.  He sits on top of books or newspapers that people are trying to read and leaps into the middle of board games, and even loves to lick the butter in the butter dish while the girls are setting the table.

To give their kitty boy something to keep him out of mischief, the family gives the grown-up Tink his own kitty to raise, and the two become inseparable companions. Still, as the years roll by, Tink never forgets the lure of the outside world, and one day, on his twentieth birthday, he makes his break through the front door, left ajar.

For the first time in his life, Tink was an outdoor cat.

And it felt intoxicating.

But after a pursuit by barking dogs, raucous diving crows, and a chilly and rainy night sleeping inside an old tire, Tink is not so sure about the outdoor life.

"I'm going home now," announced the old boy.

Or so he thought.

For a cat of little brain, it's not an easy thing to find his way home, but Tink's family and his co-kitty love their wandering boy, and after some misadventures in the wild, all's well that ends well. Schachner's illustrations and storytelling style will be familiar to fans of her best-selling Siamese kitty series, SkippyJon Jones, with her curved lines and soft mixed media (a collage of torn paper and smudged watercolor, charcoal, and pastel crayon) and her jaunty narrative. Loving cat owners will recognize their own kitty boys and girls in Tink's eccentricities, and this story of a lost cat with a happy ending is sure to please Schachner's target audience.

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