Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bad Kitty vs Uncle Murray: The Uproar at the Front Door

Bad Kitty is in the middle of a wonderful dream about Pussycat Paradise, where everything is made out of food, when she awakens to a nightmare. Her owners skedaddled off on a trip, leaving her and Puppy with Uncle Murray as their pet sitter. Puppy accepts the new status quo, but not Bad Kitty. Readers of Nick Bruel's two previous beginning chapter books starring Bad Kitty (Bad Kitty Gets a Bath and Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty) will guess (correctly) that this situation can not end well.

The Bad Kitty books are a favorite with my six-year-old nephew and I can see why. From the opening page the book takes young readers on an antic, fun-filled roller coaster of a ride. Bad Kitty, maniac and fearful, sees Uncle Murray as her arch enemy, although he clearly isn't. The cartoony illustrations provide many sight gags, as when Uncle Murray  sits on Kitty, mistaking her for a pillow, or tries to use her as a dish towel. Kitty becomes more and more frantic with each misstep, but the final straw is when Uncle Murray gets out the vacuum cleaner. Kitty flies out the door and a wild chase ensues before Kitty is safely back home. By book's end she and Uncle Murray have agreed to an uneasy truce.

Interspersed within the seven chapters are Uncle Murray's Fun Facts, which explain why felines are so fearful and cautious by nature. The facts are both accurate and entertaining, and they help readers understand why Bad Kitty freaks out the way she does. The book also has an appendix of phobias, many of which afflict Bad Kitty, such as peladophobia, fear of bald people. (Uncle Murray is sparse of hair.)

My fear? That Nick Bruel will stop writing books about Bad Kitty.  

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