It was the cover that called to me from the bookshelf:
Who wouldn’t be drawn in by those eyes. Everyone on this cover looks GUILTY!!! But what is their crime?
Well, it turns out that these three are not the perps. They’re the victims!!! They have lost their voices. The cat can’t meow, the dog can’t bark, and the mouse can’t squeak. Why? Well, it’s a mystery.
This is a perfect read aloud for Halloween, complete with an owl and a witch (an old lady versed in spells) and a tumbledown house.
The owl sends the three in search of the lady in the tumbledown house. Maybe she can cast a spell to give them back their voices.
But do they get their voices back? Well, yes—and no.
“And the cat said, ‘Cluck!’
And the dog said, ‘Quack!’
And the mouse (in a shoe) said, ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’
And the little old lady said, ‘Whoops!'”
Those of you who write in rhyme may say “Aha! I spot a forced rhyme!” when you see the insertion of the phrase “in a shoe.” Or, “A slant rhyme! ‘Down’ does not rhyme with ‘around!’ Shame! Shame!”
Well, I’m willing to cut the author some slack because it all seems to work. It doesn’t feel clunky; it feels playful and rhythmic, like a well-meaning but inept witch’s incantation.
Let me know if you feel differently.
The vibrant colors featured in the title saturate each spread (my photos don’t do them justice), and the wonderfully stylized cat, dog, and mouse match the tone of the story perfectly.
That little old lady tries new spells again…and again and again, failing a little differently each time, until—
You know how I hate to be the spoiler, right? Suffice to say, the ending is one big surprise that feels so, so, soooo inevitable. So, sooo right!
And that’s the magic that we’re all looking for when we read—and write.
Author: Suzi Moore
Illustrator: Russell Ayto
Publisher: Templar, an imprint of Candlewick, 2016 – U.S. edition
Age Range: Preschool – age 7
For more picture book recommendations, check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.