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How Many Candles?
     

How Many Candles?

by Helen V. Griffith, Sonja Lamut (Illustrator)
 
Dogs, boys, cats, turtles, even gnats, do not age in quite the same way. But try explaining this to Alex the whippet! The all-knowing cat gives his canine friend a patient lesson in relative time in the animal kingdom—although Alex just wants to know how many candles to put on his best friend Robbie's birthday cake. One thing adds up for sure, though, this

Overview

Dogs, boys, cats, turtles, even gnats, do not age in quite the same way. But try explaining this to Alex the whippet! The all-knowing cat gives his canine friend a patient lesson in relative time in the animal kingdom—although Alex just wants to know how many candles to put on his best friend Robbie's birthday cake. One thing adds up for sure, though, this rib-tickling odd couple (now appearing in picture-book format) is sure to delight their growing legions of young fans!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The creators of Alex and the Cat bring back the canine-feline duo for a quirky tale that takes a half-hearted stab at explaining the relative life spans of humans and several animal species. Alex the dog has a cake with 10 candles for his master, Robbie, who is turning 10. When the cat observes that "Ten years in a boy is the same as seventy years in a cat," Alex frets that he may need to top the cake with 70 candles. He is further confounded by a turtle's comment that his kind can live to be 100 and that "Ten years to a turtle is eight years to a boy." The canine then wonders if he should remove two of the 10 candles so that eight remain. Kids may have trouble following the logic, especially when two gnats appear on the scene, prompting the cat to note that "Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat." Though it all adds up to a rather random assemblage of comparisons (and readers never do view the birthday boy), Griffith does insert some funny asides, as when the cat discovers that, underneath the frosting, the cake "seems to be made of dog biscuits" and Alex responds, "Is that wrong?" Lamut's art also serves up some amusing images, including Alex's mental picture of the cat as a 70-year-old birthday celebrant sitting in a rocking chair, balloons tied to his cane. The ever-popular birthday theme may just be enough to override any confusion surrounding the candle count. Ages 5-up. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Emily Schuster
When Alex the dog makes a cake to celebrate Robbie's tenth birthday, things turn out to be a lot more complicated than he'd planned. When the other animals explain to him that 10 years to a boy is like 70 years to a cat, 8 years to a turtle, and a billion years to a gnat, Alex is baffled as to how many candles he should really put on Robbie's cake. The story is cute, and naive Alex is a sweet character. Some of the relative year comparisons get a bit confusing for young readers, though, and the author seems unsure about how to end the book. Also, the predominately gray artwork is too dreary for the subject matter.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3 Alex the dog, first introduced in Alex and the Cat (Greenwillow, 1982; o.p.), explains to his feline friend that he has made a cake to celebrate Robbie's 10th birthday. The text goes on to make the following comparisons (with Alex ready to supply the requisite number of candles): "Ten years in a boy is the same as seventy years in a cat," "Ten years to a turtle is eight years to a boy," and "Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat." The story culminates with the turtle chasing after the gnats, who refuse to believe that turtles live to be 100-years-old. The birthday boy never makes an appearance in the story, and the rather abrupt ending leaves readers to imagine the party. The plot has very little action and consists largely of a conversation between Alex and the cat. However, Lamut's illustrations, done in egg tempera and oil paints, skillfully portray the animals with comic expression and vitality within the well-balanced compositions. Although young children may enjoy the thought of celebrating a birthday, they will not grasp the underlying theme of relative longevity. And the book is far too simple for older children able to grasp the abstract nature of time and relative life spans. Paul Kelsey, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Library, LA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Time is relative, as Griffith's pleasingly droll story makes clear, especially when a cat, a dog, a turtle, and a couple gnats get together to compare longevity. The dog, Alex, has made a cake for his friend, Robbie, a boy turning ten who never appears in these pages. A cat notes that Robbie's years equal about 70 of hers, while a turtle figures that the same number equals about 8 of his years, because he can live to be 100. Two gnats buzz in to check on the doings, and they can't even begin to comprehend the very notion of ten years—" `Well, they're gnats,' said the cat. `Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat.'Ê" As Alex tries to determine how many candles are needed for each new configuration, the cat sniffs the cake: "This seems to be made of dog biscuits," and the higher mathematics are put on the back burner while some sheer tomfoolery comes to the fore. This is a delightful exploration of dry humor and number-juggling, accompanied by some elegantly funny artwork. (Picture book. 5-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688162597
Publisher:
Greenwillow Books
Publication date:
08/28/1999
Pages:
24
Product dimensions:
8.26(w) x 10.24(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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