Despite a promising title and endpapers picturing a chameleonic hero, this cat tale fails to deliver on its allusion to James Thurber's short story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Walter Kitty looks and acts like an ordinary cinnamon cat in a suburban home. He hangs out in the front-yard tree, digs in loose garden dirt and climbs uninvited onto people's laps and the supper table. When his owner, Mrs. Biddle, calls him "Wally," "Kitten" and "Baby," he shows up-particularly if treats and catnip are involved. All the while, he quietly maintains, "my real name is Fang." In his daydreams-too few and far between here-Walter becomes a pouncing tiger, a pirate ("Captain Fang"), and a fearless archaeologist on the Indiana Jones model. Using ink, acrylic and digital media, Santat (The Guild of Geniuses) pictures Walter grinning like the Cheshire Cat with steel-trap jaws; he sketches the feline as an astronaut, firefighter and top-hatted gentleman, and juxtaposes these energetic caricatures with prosaic images of Walter grooming or tracking mud across the linoleum. Yet the narrative does not expand on the cat's active imagination. Hicks (Jitterbug Jam) instead focuses on Walter's household behavior: "I don't know what Mrs. Biddle would do without me," the cat muses, licking plates clean and dusting the floor by sliding on it. Whereas Thurber's version satirizes middle-class complacency and pent-up aggression, Walter's tepid home life suits him fine, and his fantasy world remains undeveloped. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Walter the cat tells us his real name is Fang. Although he insists Mrs. Biddle could not manage the household without his "help," she does not seem very grateful, nor is Mr. Biddle. Worn out by his unappreciated efforts, Walter becomes Fang in his dreams, rescuing the Biddles from pirates, or climbing the Empire State Building. Each time they address him as "Kitty," or "Nincompoop," or "Snookums, he angrily resents it, but when it is accompanied by food, or catnip, or a soft lap and a "good, hard skritching" on that special spot under his chin, he allows it. "But most of the time," he insists, "I'm Fang." Santat's kitty is a brown striped puss with pointed ears and four sharp teeth. Mixed media (ink and acrylic) are manipulated by Photoshop to produce simple scenes and cartoon-like characters who communicate in speech balloons. Anecdotal rather than sequential scenes demonstrate how language can be interpreted one way by Walter and another by his human family. In the end, Mrs. Biddle is all-forgiving, but her husband is obviously not. The many faces of Walter Kitty in his dreams, from helmeted warrior to chef, march across the end-papers.
Children's Literature - Joan Elste
This comical book starts immediately by showing the reader the true duel personality of this cat. The author cleverly depicts both the owners' perspective and the cat's at the same time and the result is hilarious. Kids will love it. The interplay between both is charming and cute and something any cat owner can relate to. The hidden personality of Fang pops out at different intervals which the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Biddle, obviously do not appreciate or even understand. Walter Kitty, who hesitantly will answer to Walter, Kitty, Wally, Kitten, Nincompoop, and Snookums, believes he is Fang, a superhero. The text flows beautifully with inserted humor when Fang goes into one of his fantasy trips. Fang's antics in the house and garden are priceless and so cat-like. If you wonder what a cat is thinking, this book spells it all out. It is a very appealing book for children. The illustrations are priceless and funny.
School Library Journal
Like many a young child, Mrs. Biddle's cat, Walter, has an overactive imagination. In his dreams, he is Fang, the wild tiger who terrorizes mice; the fearless buccaneer who rescues his "Persons" (owners) from pirates; the brave adventurer who discovers ancient artifacts. Loving Mrs. Biddle calls him "Kitty," "Wally," "Snookums," and "Baby"; gives him catnip that induces him to dig wildly in Mr. Biddle's garden; and "skritch[es]" him under his chin as he dreams of himself as a small, masked superhero, cape flying as he rushes down the sidewalk. Walter's day comes vibrantly alive in Santat's full-page cartoon art done in acrylic, ink, and Photoshop. While Walter's thoughts and narration are in black type, those for the Persons and Fang appear to be hand-printed and are set in dialogue balloons. Mug shots of the feline in his many guises fill the endpapers. The combination of imaginative plot and comic-book elements is sure to capture the fancy of children caught up in the superhero craze.
Susan SchepsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kids won't get the pun of the title, but they will definitely giggle at this superhero named Fang who's disguised as an ordinary house cat. His tabby sentiments are expressed in first-person voice: "My Person doesn't know it, but my real name is Fang. That's her now. Mrs. Biddle." Pan to Mrs. Biddle calling, "Here, Walter-kitty-kitty." "If I've told her once, I've told her a thousand times . . . my name is FANG!" While Walter's help with daily activities like making the bed and doing the crossword puzzle goes unappreciated by the Biddles, in his catnaps he is a swashbuckling supercat who saves the day. Awakened by endearments of Wally, Snookums and Baby, Walter deigns to answer, knowing full well that his real name is FANG. Cartoon ink-and-acrylic illustrations inject just the right amount of feline insouciance that cat fanciers will recognize from the sly expressions. Plump and brown-striped with one brown-ringed eye, Walter is a charmer. (Picture book. 5-8)