Review of Bathe the Cat

Bathe the Cat
by Alice B. McGinty; illus. by David Roberts
Preschool, Primary    Chronicle    48 pp.    g
11/21    978-1-4521-4270-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4521-6919-4    $11.99

A family of five has a lot to do before Grandma’s visit; luckily, the father narrating McGinty’s (The Water Lady, rev. 3/21) energetically rhyming story is good at delegating: “Bobby, mop the floor. / Dad will scrub the dishes. / I’ll vacuum the rug. / Sarah, feed the fishes.” In case anyone needs a reminder, a job list is on the refrigerator, spelled out with colorful magnetic letters. The list is helpful…and it’s also how things go off the rails. An orange cat sneakily rearranges the words on the fridge, hoping to escape the dreaded “I’ll bathe the cat.” When the family gets to work, they’re confused but compliant: “I’ll vacuum the lawn. / Bobby, bathe the mat. / Sarah, mop the baby, / and Dad will mow the cat.” Whoa! Definitely not what the cat intended. Cleanly rendered illustrations show the family dutifully following orders while things go hilariously wrong. ­Roberts’s (Ada Twist, Scientist) precise pencil and watercolor illustrations go beyond the entertaining premise to matter-of-factly portray a family at the intersection of a number of identities. The two fathers have brown skin, as do two of their kids. Sarah, who wears a T-rex ­costume, is white with red hair and ­freckles. Dad, who also has freckles, wears pink pants, as does Bobby. This diversity isn’t the point of the story but offers much to contemplate after the silliness is done — and the cat still isn’t bathed.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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