This delightful children's book, written & illus. by Tomi Ungerer, tells the story of Mr. Zeno Krall & his wife Colza, an expectant cat couple. But when their baby is born, to their great surprise he is a dog! ''How can it be? What shall we do?'' he asks his wife. ''Love him, he is ours,'' she replies, & they welcome their new son, Flix. Growing up as a dog in Cattown is a tough experience for Flix. But he learns to climb trees & do all the things cats do, while his godfather teaches him to speak Dog, & do all the things dogs do. Flix's ability to be at home in both worlds proves a big advantage when he races up a tree to rescue a poodle from a burning building. When he later marries this same poodle, their first child turns out to be -- to their surprise -- not entirely as expected!
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In Ungerer's (Crictor; Moon Man) first children's book in 25 years, a delightfully witty and lighthearted look at race relations, a cat couple is startled to discover that their newborn is a dog. (This "genetic mishap" is traced to a great-grandmother's secret marriage to a pug.) The doting parents bring up squat, jowly, wrinkly-faced Flix to climb trees and eat fried mice and pickled canaries. Under the tutelage of his basset hound godfather, the pup also learns pride in his canine heritage and masters the dog language. Flix's combined talents win him the respect of both communities, the love of a French exchange-student poodle and eventually a career in politics, in which he campaigns to end cat-dog segregation. Ungerer celebrates the versatility and perspective Flix gains from his mixed ancestry while still acknowledging the hardship of not fitting in. His lively illustrations, which feature highly expressive and individualized faces, are more supple and playful than in earlier books. The accomplished artwork brims with funny touches such as a rat-crossing sign in Cattown (speed up!) and a monument to Laika (the first dog to orbit in space) in Dogtown; more pointed details include the no-dogs-allowed sign in a posh Cattown restaurant. Ungerer's return to the field will be welcomed by all who discover this charming addition to his oeuvre, but will be especially appreciated by children growing up in more than one cultural tradition. Ages 6-10. (May) FYI: Tomi Ungerer's The Three Robbers, Moon Man and No Kiss for Mother are being reissued in paperback, as well as Heidi (by Johanna Spyri) in a hardcover edition. (Roberts Rinehart/Tom!Co, $6.95 40p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-57098-206-6; $6.95 40p ages 4-8 ISBN -207-4; $5.95 40p ages 6-10 ISBN -208-2; $19.95 312p all ages ISBN -162-0; May)
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
It is clear that Ungerer is going for a Picture Book With Meaning. Which means that readers ... need to look at it with as clear and unsentimental an eye as Ungerer himself.... ---- The New York Times Book Review, Jane Yolen
Grade 2-4 - In this waggish tale about surprise offspring uniting a divided community, a veteran author disguises serious themes-but not too deeply for young readers to unmask them. Zeno and Colza Krall, two staid, comfortable cats, are stunned when Colza gives birth to a pug (''GENES AMOK'' screams a headline), but they raise young Flix lovingly, with the assistance of a canine godfather. Growing up able to speak both dog (with a cat accent) and cat (with a dog accent), Flix becomes a popular student at Dogtown's Pluto High and, after he rescues a drowning cat, he is also respected in Cattown. Later he marries a poodle, makes a living selling rat traps in Dogtown and their "baited proceeds" to Cattown butchers, then goes into politics, establishing a coalition party and becoming the first ever Lord Mayor of both towns. Ungerer clothes portly cats and dogs in formal, antique attire and deftly inserts visual jokes-a flop-eared statue of St. Bernard, an attractively arranged dish of rat hindquarters in a fine Cattown restaurant-into his freely drawn watercolors. At the end, Flix and his wife Mirzah close the circle with a feline firstborn, a symbol of the bridge that has been built between previously antagonistic cultures. ---- School Library Journal
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