Margaret Read MacDonald,
illustrated by Julie Paschkis,
Fat Cat: a Danish Folktale
(August House/Little Folk, 2001)

Margaret Read MacDonald retells a Danish folktale about a cat who just doesn't know when enough is enough.

Cat and Mouse keep house together, and it's not the best arrangement, at least for Mouse. She does all the cooking, and Cat does all the eating. One day, Mouse bakes 35 pies, and Cat eats every one. In alarm, Mouse declares "My CAT, you sure are FAT!"

Cat leaves to further satisfy his hunger, proudly announcing "I'm meow meow FAT! 'Cause I'm a HUNGRY HUNGRY CAT!" He meets and swallows a washerwoman, her washtub and laundry, a band of soldiers and the king and his elephant, each of whom blurts "My CAT, you sure are FAT!" -- possibly not the most tactful comment. Cat gets fatter and fatter with each "SLIP SLOP SLUUURP!" and finally, he swallows Mouse, who decides enough is enough. She snips her way out, freeing the others as well. She's still Cat's friend, so she patches him up (literally!) and everyone's left a bit wiser for the experience.

MacDonald writes tales which lend themselves to telling, and Fat Cat is no exception. She breaks the story into easily learned chunks, with plenty of repetitive elements which invite listeners to chime in.

The crisp, charming text is set off by Paschkis's cheery gouache folk art style illustrations. The figures spill across the double spread pages at every angle, combining deceptively simple shapes with painstaking details. The illustrations play down the potentially grislier aspects of the story, accenting the humorous aspects instead.

Fat Cat may be a cautionary tale about the consequences of greed, but the sunny presentation guarantees that eager young readers will gobble it down with a "SLIP SLOP SLUUURP!"

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 21 October 2001

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