Rhyming verses set to music create a marvelous tale about a generous friendship, which nearly suffered a disruptive mess as each one almost stayed home. Nat the Cat has an infectious personality with such an upbeat approach to what could have been a very dull or troublesome day. Tap tap tap! Nat’s calling card encourages them with a big smile and a hearty greeting to go on a picnic in a nearby meadow. First Hugo Hare and then Billy Goat think (and feel) sickly, and feel (and think) poorly of Nat’s invitation. They unfortunately reflect the dreary, dingy, gray day even though Nat’s boisterousness should be wonderfully infectious. So, Nat plods on alone to the green meadow thinking, “What sort of a picnic will it be, with nobody there to share it with me?” Bees buzz, colorful blooms abound, and a calm, blue lake is inviting. However, Nat the Cat’s “engine” stopped just as if a balloon had popped. A gloomy mood overtakes her; even the cat has had enough of trying. Yet, Hugo and Billy actually had a change of heart due to their dear friend’s cheerful ways. With a quick hop and renewed energy, they turn a frown into a sunny smile to enjoy snacks they made to share. Thus, a joyous day deserves more than a picnic together. Nat celebrates by creating a delightful rhyming song as they join in to relish a most special, wonderful day. Their lively song is included while both the sheet music and the song can be printed and heard by download. Full-page paintings brighten springtime memories by this whimsical, prolific author to bring another marvelous read aloud to us all. Reviewer: Susan Treadway; Ages 4 to 7.
School Library Journal
PreS-K—Children follow Nat the Cat as she tries to collect her friends, Hugo Hare and Billy Goat, for a picnic. When they decline because they're in bad moods, Nat sweetly pats them on their heads and continues along, humming a song. But on her way to the meadow, she wonders, "What sort of a picnic…will it be,/with nobody there to share it with me?" Now feeling gloomy herself, Nat stops at a lake and flops on the ground, uninterested in the contents of her picnic basket. Then Hugo and Billy appear, cheerfully explaining, "after you left the grump went away,/and it's all because of your smile…." The three friends munch on biscuits and cake,and they sing "Nat the Cat's Picnic Song." Words and music are included and may also be heard and downloaded at the author's website. Alborough's paintings, with rounded figures and spare backgrounds, feature soft colors and textures. The rhyming text is well paced, with choppy verse for the complaints and be-bop rhythms in the upbeat sections. Word choice encourages preschoolers' vocabulary development: "dingy," "dreary," "hamper," "brood."—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Who wouldn't smile at a day of picnic fun? "Nat the Cat jumped out of bed / with a smile spread halfway around her head. / She packed a picnic snack to share / with her friends Billy Goat and Hugo Hare." However, when she knocks on Hugo's door, he's feeling gray to match the clouds. Sunny Nat is fine with that; she pats his head and goes on her way. At Billy Goat's house, she knocks again, but he's got a case of the grumpies. Nat pats his head too and continues on. Unbeknownst to Nat, her smiles and pats have cheered Hugo's grays away and banished Billy's grumpies. Unfortunately, Nat starts to feel down; what fun is a picnic alone? And the sky does look a bit gray. Then her two friends surprise her by showing up for the snack. They sing a song (music included) and have a grand game of Frisbee. Prolific British storybook author/illustrator/musician Alborough gives Nat a blue guitar, which she carries slung on her back in the big, bright, friendly gouache illustrations. Listeners will identify with Nat and friends and respond with tapping toes to the rhyme and the song. The song can be heard and downloaded via a provided URL; Billy and Hugo books (with songs) will follow. Nat's sunny smile is hard to resist. (Picture book. 3-7)