Young children will want to get right into this beautifully illustrated book with a huge cat on the jacket licking his chops at a mouse. MacDonald has drawn a story about a clever cat from a book of stories of the Limba people in Africa who pass them on to impart wisdom to their children. In a village near the forest, a sinister cat tricks all the mice except clever Mabela. While the cat leads the mice into the forest, singing "We never look back! The cat is at the end, Fo Feng! Fo Feng!" the mice are one by one bagged by the cat. But Mabela remembers her father's lessons "...Listen...Look around you...pay attention to what you are saying...move fast." Just before she is snatched, Mabela tricks the sneaky cat. The bright textured paintings fill most of each two-page spread with the orange stalking cat, the pink and purple mice, and the lush green forest. Kids will chant with the Fo Fengs and enjoy the satisfying ending, with a lesson. There is an author's note, a tune made up for readers to sing the words, and a game suggestion. 2001, Albert Whitman & Company, . Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Elaine Wick
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-MacDonald's retelling of this Limba tale is engineered for storytime success. The silly mice in Mabela's village are hunted by one clever cat. Thankfully, Mabela is pretty clever herself compared to most of her peers. When the cat invites the mice to join her "secret Cat Society," they can hardly believe their luck. All they have to do is lead the cat into the forest, sing at the top of their lungs, and never look back. Because she is the smallest mouse, Mabela is the first in line. With every loud refrain, however, she notices substantial evidence that fewer and fewer mice seem to be singing and marching behind her. Remembering her wise father's advice for survival when she is "out and about," Mabela manages to save her friends and leave the treacherous cat tangled in thorns. MacDonald prefaces the story with brief background information about the oral tradition in Limba culture and suggests an original song and a game to encourage creative interaction. Coffey's thatch-strewn paintings, rendered in acrylic on watercolor paper textured with gesso, feature lots of visibly clueless, wide-eyed mice, and his cat oozes predatory shrewdness to the very end.-Catherine T. Quattlebaum, DeKalb County Public Library, Atlanta, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"MacDonald's retelling of this Limba tale is engineered for storytime success."
School Library Journal
"Feathery brush-strokes add texture to Coffey's acrylics, and the fantastical setting suits the magical nature of this tale."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books