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Review of The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way)

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way)
by Patrick McDonnell; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Little, Brown    48 pp.    g
9/17    978-0-31650246-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-50247-4    $9.99

Waking up on the title page, a little red cat spies the open door and heads out for some fun. But he soon meets up with an alligator, mouth agape, an encounter that sets this wordless — save for the upper-and-lower-case letterforms — alphabet book into Action. The alligator only briefly seems a threat, which also holds true for the dragon that shows up a few letters later; a bear and chicken have joined the cast in the meantime, and the dragon scares an egg out of the chicken. By the time we see the six (yes, including the egg) swinging skillfully through the jungle together, we know they are friends, and the creamy paper and spacious layout add to the feeling of comfort. Expert, minimal, and gentle lines move the eye across each spread and to the next, an attention to forward motion that is equaled in the plot: while the little red cat is having a fine time, he is lost and needs help getting home. (Thank heaven for unicorns.) Touches of wit and plenty of zip recommend this for lap-sit sharing; a key to the letter associations, some more abstract than others, is provided.

From the July/August 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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