Friday, October 6, 2017

Ugly Cat and Pablo by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Tom Knight

Pablo has the ideas. Ugly Cat has the looks (at least he thinks so). On this hot summer day the two are trying to come up with a great idea. Play with Big Mike, the dog? Nope, he's still mad after they used him in their fake bullfight the other day. Try to scare people? Not that they could, since Ugly Cat is actually sooo handsome! Then Pablo has a wonderful idea - free food at the park! Together this unstoppable team is ready to make the summer day shine with some free food - delicioso paletas and chicharrones. They just have to figure out how to get it...

The two friends come up with a plan and put it into action but there are a few hiccups. Little girls aren't as scared of mice as Pablo thought they were and now he's in danger of being the food himself! They're going to need all the help they can get, including Big Mike, to get out of this one - and get their treats! But will Big Mike help them out? And what happens if Ugly Cat forgets his promise never to eat mice again?

There is a glossary of Spanish words included in the back and a recipe for paletas de coco. Knight's black and white illustrations show a disreputable cat with torn ear, missing fur, and fangs and a dapper mouse in vest, bowtie, and bowler hat. The layout includes a bold font for Ugly Cat's dialogue and a more stylized font for Pablo's dramatic, chattering lines.

This was funny. It would make an hilarious read-aloud chapter book, especially Pablo's lines "Well, what could I expect from a conniving cat like you? Fine. I'll walk into your mouth. Only because my legs are tired from running so much and I can't run anymore. Let it be known that Pablo Gutierrez Calderon de la Barca faced his finale without fear."

There were a couple issues that bothered me. The fonts used for Big Mike and Pablo are very similar, adding some confusion to the story. The little girl, who is the villain of the piece, is very stereotyped. She is fat, has braces, and throws tantrums and is generally, you know, the villain. Other than these two minor issues though, this was funny and I think will definitely attract kids. The Spanish interjections are easy to figure out from context, apart from the glossary at the back, and animal stories are always popular.

Verdict: If you're looking to add some more humor and diversity to your beginning chapter book series, this is a good selection.

ISBN: 9781338053968; Published 2017 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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