Books & Literature

Book review: Cat Dog, by Mem Fox & Mark Teague

PICTURE BOOK: Join an unlikely animal trio for some irresistibly funny antics in this read-aloud gem from bestselling, award-winning and much-loved author Mem Fox and acclaimed illustrator Mark Teague.

A fun and imaginative early learning picture book that is bound to encourage participation and conversation.

Mem Fox is arguably Australia’s favourite children’s author with more than 40 children’s books to her name, including the much-loved Possum Magic.

Her latest early learning picture book, Cat Dog, is a short, simple tale of two pets at home, and a mouse that catches the eye of the cat. While the dog sleeps, the cat chases the mouse.

The repetitive questioning of the action is what makes Cat Dog genius. The narrative is designed to be read aloud, with each action posed as a yes/no question for the listening child to answer. For the dog, the answer is always ‘no’. For the cat, it’s ‘yes’.

“And the dog opened one eye, right?
But the cat skittered after the mouse, right?

There’s one line of text per page, with the reader having to turn the page to find the answer on the left side and the next question on the right leaf. This gives an opportunity for the reader and listeners to guess each answer and discuss why it might be so before the page turns. For those who have already read it, ‘what if’ questions can easily be added by the reader to change the narrative. What a great way to engage a child’s imagination and encourage conversation. The guessing game easily engenders excitement, anticipation and most probably, lots of laughter between the participants.

The matching double-page illustrations by award-winning Mark Teague are superb. They evoke movement and character, depicting the action being questioned and, over the page, the answer of what really happened. The personalities of the three animals shine through, as do the much-loved common traits of each species until the final page when the question is left unanswered.

Cat Dog is visually pleasing and, although the text is basic and minimal, it’s a very cleverly written tome that young children are sure to love participating in.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: October 2021
RRP: $19.99 hardcover

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