Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family

Schwartz & Wade. Apr. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984848994.
K-Gr 2–When two adults move in with one another, many elements of their lives merge: eating habits, sleeping routines, furniture styles, levels of cleanliness, and children if they have them. The adults in this story do not have children, but they do have pets. When the couple moves in together, their two dogs and one cat humorously learn to get along with one another through a series of mishaps, like chewed moving boxes or a tumble out of a first-floor window. The text consists of virtually only two words: “dog” and “cat.” For instance, before the man and his dog move in with the woman, each panel has only the word “dog,” reinforcing the fact that the dog is the only animal in the household. However, once the couple moves in with one another, the text is presented in various combinations, like “dog cat dog” or the title phrase “cat dog dog” with the occasional “bird” or “frog” interjected for some variety. With text this simple, it’s up to the pictures to tell the story. Bold lines and bright colors create the feeling of a Sunday morning comic strip, and the animals have expressive faces. The same level of detail isn’t given to the humans in the story, so they aren’t missed when they disappear for the majority of the book.
VERDICT This unusual offering takes the adult concept of cohabitation and gives it a picture book spin by filtering it through the eyes of its animal protagonists. The animals in the story may serve as a useful analog for children who are members of blended families themselves.

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