The Kids of Cattywampus Street

Random House/Anne Schwartz. Jul. 2021. 128p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593127568.
Gr 1-3–This quirky, often bizarre story collection follows the lives of kids who live on Cattywampus Street, described as “long and twisty, way out in the middle of Nowheresville.” It is home to a diverse cast of kids who experience a mix of silly, scary, weird, and magical events. The short stories often speak directly to readers and focus on one Cattywampus resident at a time: Lindalee, a mean girl who tries to be nice, only to be rejected by everyone until she decides to be mean again; Hans, dressed in a robot t-shirt and pink hair bow, who eats waffle after waffle made by a creature pretending to be his “mommy” who then eats him and promptly throws him up; and Charlotta, who gets pulled into her beloved dollhouse and lives happily ever after. The stories are reminiscent of those by Roald Dahl and even Edward Gorey, but lack the originality and consistent humor of those authors. The plot of each story veers from peculiar to genuinely creepy and nonsensical, almost as if a child is dictating them. The magical mayhem of Cattywampus Street, particularly the narrator’s tendency to engage the reader, will appeal to some, but the collection as a whole remains marred by its uneven tone.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for larger library collections where droll, curious fiction is in demand.

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