Antic illustrations by New Yorker cover artist Searle accentuate the hilarity in Wardlaw's (Seventh Grade Weirdo) brisk cat-tale. It's Sunday, time for kittens Christopher, Ellen and Fergie to visit their grandparents at Catnip Acres, a retirement community. At first, the three want to while away the hours watching television. But as Grandpa points out some of his neighbors and describes their adventures of yesteryear, he wins over the moody youngsters. He spins yarns of Billy the Kitten, ``the fastest paw in the West,'' and outlaw Calico Jane; millionaire Diamond Jim Kitty; the Great Tabby Houdini (sardonic kitten Christopher, the last to warm to the storytelling, stubbornly wonders, ``Could she pull a TV out of [her hat]?''); and daredevil pilot Kitty Hawk-who turns out to be none other than Grandma Cat herself. Wardlaw has an instinct for the catchy hook, and the dialogue is especially deft. Searle's pen-and-ink drawings, brightened with watercolors, radiate enthusiasm: the lively Grandpa sports a multicolored top hat, spats and a lavender coat with tails (including his own); gesturing grandly with his cane (which he carries more for dapper effect than for balance) he acts as ringmaster to the spirited proceedings. All ages. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3Christopher, Ellen, and Fergie are not pleased when they have to give up watching TV to visit their grandparents at boring old Catnip Acres. While Mom sits to talk with Grandma over parakeet tea, Grandpa stirs himself to take the children on a walk to meet some of his friends. He points out Billy the Kitten, who ``...looks like a geezer'' but used to be the fastest paw in the West. Among the retirees playing shuffleboard is Diamond Jim Kitty, who made millions from his mitten factory. A cat picking tomatoes in the garden is Tabby Houdini, the great magician. Last of all, Grandpa tells the story of Miss Kitty Hawk, who learned to fly and who turns out to be Grandma. The children never actually talk with the celebrated felines, but are just whisked along with the storyeven in the case of Miss Kitty Hawk. Grandpa is a master of trickery, spinning yarns to catch his grandchildren's attention, but never giving them the opportunity to challenge the stories' credibility. There is much to be said for highlighting the talents of seniors, but Grandpa gets too involved and wordy in his enthusiasm. Full-and half-page pen-and-ink cartoons add humor to this episodic tall tale.Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Janice Del Negro
Expecting to be bored at Grandma and Grandpa Cat's retirement community, the grandcats are surprised by the tales Grandpa tells about the "old cats" in the neighborhood. Tall tales about Diamond Jim Kitty, the Great Tabby Houdini, and the high-flying Miss Kitty Hawk change the grandcats' focus from television to personal histories and even get them into the fresh air for a walk. The expressive personalities of Searle's cats carry the somewhat belabored premise with nattily dressed males and flamboyant, buxom females frolicing through the stories, and Grandpa achieving the aspect of an eccentric flimflam man. For kids ready to venture beyond vocabulary-controlled materials as well as for those who can't get enough about cats.