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Working in the same edgy style of his Russell the Sheep books, Scotton once again wrests new opportunities for humor from a well-worn theme, this time training his sights on first-day-of-school anxiety. Right away the art signals off-kilter: using a predominantly blue-gray palette, enlivened by only one or two contrast colors per page, Scotton evokes the black cat Splat in almost 3D renderings, the cat's hairs seemingly standing on edge, eyes bulging apprehensively as he contemplates his first appearance at Cat School. For courage, Splat secretly brings along his pet mouse, Seymour, and is astounded when the day's lesson includes the news that cats chase mice (to Splat's multiple "Why?"s, the teacher offers a finite "Because"). Naturally, everything works out before the dismissal bell rings, but not before a chase sequence guaranteed to bring down the house. Rambunctious, filled with superbly executed details (look for Seymour when Splat pulls his mildly sheer sheets over his head), this book not only gets its job done, it completely transcends its agenda. Ages 3-7. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.