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Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Cat's Pajamas, written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards. Kids Can Press, 2010. $19.95 ages 9 and up

"Idiom: a group of words whose meaning cannot be understood from the meaning of the individual words; an expression, peculiar to a specific language, that cannot be translated literally."

"As judge of the Tiny Tot Talent Contest, Leon had to face the music."

Picture it: The audience is in its place. The chipmunk is atop a three-legged stool with a huge horn to its mouth. Leon the lion is facing the chipmunk and horn, mane blown back as if in the midst of a windstorm. Kids will realize this is quite the unusual situation given the common relationship between a lion and a much smaller animal.

Before the book comes to a close, Wallace Edwards explains that face the music means: 'to accept the consequences of your actions; to receive punishment.' Yep, I would think Leon knows that feeling!

What fun it is to share another book by this talented and award-winning artist! It is a worthy companion to Monkey Business (Kids Can, 2004). Once again, there is so much to see in each of the rich and dramatic drawings. Kids will spend long stretches poring over all that is included for them to see.

I could go through the book one adage after the other; suffice it to say that this is a worthy addition to any collection and will give interested linguists a literal view of a unique element of the English language. The illustration brings meaning to the saying, as well as giving us a clear look at the character in question, the environment and how that character is feeling at the moment.

Kids in intermediate grades might use it as a mentor text for choosing idioms and illustrating them, for creating their own scenarios and for expanding their own language. The glossary provided, following the text, explains the idioms presented and will leave readers with a clearer understanding. As well as that, Wallace Edwards leaves us with a task that will send us right back to the first page...can you find the cat on each and every page?  It is the perfect invitation to go back and look even more closely at the exquisite details. Another triumph for this fine artist!


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