Written and Illustrated by Joseph Low
Aladdin Paperbacks, 1980
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Cat was thinking about supper.
The plot in a nutshell: Cat tries to trick his way into a mouse dinner
Cat is very hungry and he has a craving for Mouse. He goes to her door and invites her to dinner. Knowing Cat well, Mouse asks if she can bring a friend. Very pleased at the thought of two mice, Cat accepts. When Cat arrives, he sees that Mouse has brought Dog. They enjoy some cheese and Dog invites Cat back the next night. This time, Cat asks if he can bring a friend and shows up with Wolf. But Dog has invited Crocodile. Cat and Wolf say they can’t stay. Cat suggests hosting the next night, when he can bring a distant relative. Dog and Mouse show up at Cat’s house, where Lion is waiting with tables of delicious food. As their guests arrive, Cat and Lion prepare to pounce, but Dog has brought Wasp, who immediately stings Lion’s face. He smashes Cat’s house apart and runs away. Cat follows him and Dog chases Cat. Mouse and Wasp stay to enjoy the food.
The premise for this story is already pretty comical, but author/illustrator Joseph Low makes it even more entertaining by making all the animals extremely well-mannered. While they are all trying to outmaneuver and get the drop on each other, they are exceedingly polite to each other and observe all the social niceties that come along with entertaining. To me, this raised the comic appeal of both the characters and the situation.
Mr. Low also draws them all as very well-dressed, which I loved. His artwork uses only shades of red, yellow and black, just as he did in The Christmas Grump, which is a holiday favorite of mine. I enjoyed this book a great deal and particularly liked the picture on the back cover, which features the mouse saying “Hah!…not even once!” It’s just a cute moment in which a main character gets to celebrate the fact that she got the best of the cat (and his friends).
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that, when dealing with an enemy, it’s best to try to stay one step ahead of them. (And it doesn’t hurt to have a friend who’s got your back.)