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Monday, August 18, 2014

DOG vs. Cat, written and illustrated by Chris Gall. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2014. $19.00 ages 4 and up

"However, the Buttons had
only one room for their pets.
They would have to share.
This could have been a
dangerous situation, but Dog
and Cat wanted to be very



Don't the Buttons talk to each other in the morning? Apparently not. On the same day that Mr. Button makes a stop at the animal shelter looking for a dog to love, Mrs. Button is across town buying a new cat from the pet store. The trips home in their respective cars give readers a sense of the differences between the two new family members: Dog is shown tongue hanging out and drooling all over the back seat of the convertible, while Cat settles snugly behind the center back seat seatbelt, wondering how long it will take to get there. There's sure to be some TROUBLE!

You can't take your eyes off the pages for one minute, or you will miss the boatload of humor that Chris Gall has included in this most enjoyable story about two very different pets who are trying their best to be friendly. Moving in together strains the relationship from the beginning. Their space is divided by an evident white line, marking each one's territory and showing at first look just how opposite they are.

Dog, feet up in his recliner, is basking in a space awash with food, sports equipment, old soda cans and unmade bed, while Cat's space is a picture of order and perfection, suit jackets hung and pressed, bed made, shoes neatly placed and at the ready. The sight gags will have readers guffawing as they share each of the spot pictures that show just what makes them incompatible. The problems escalate until they make the decision to mark their own territory when it comes to the question of a litter box:

"Why can't you go outside like regular pets?

I have indoor privileges."

They cannot find a compromise. The fight rages on...until a wall is built. Only then do they begin to recognize that they might be missing each other. When a strange howling sound signals the arrival of yet another 'pet', they have to work together to find a new reality for both of them.

Chris Gall's imaginatively detailed images for this new book are full of humor never mentioned in the understated text. I have read it again and again to myself, always howling at the two. He uses full page, double page and spot pictures to ensure that we catch each joke and the many deadpan moments between the two. You don't want to miss the vintage look of the black and white photos, complete with stick-um photo corners that adorn the endpapers.

This is a great deal of fun, and you will be delighted to share it!

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