Houndsley and Catina
By James Howe
llustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
$14.99 HC / $4.99 PA
Catina wants to be a famous writer. Houndsley is an excellent cook. Catina thinks Houndsley is a wonder. Houndsley thinks Catina is a very good friend. So what should Houndsley say about Catina's seventy-four-chapter memoir? And can Catina find the right words of comfort for Houndsley after the big cooking contest fiasco? James Howe's funny and endearing world of ginger tea, no-bean chili, and firefly watching is brought to life in cozy watercolors by Marie-Louise Gay in this tender chapter book about what it means to be friends.
From the Committee:
Although this book falls in the Early Reader category, the committee chose this book as the recipient of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Picture Books because of the wonderful relationship between James Howe's writing and Marie-Louise Gay's illustrations. Committee members felt that the lovely relationship between the two main characters was an evocative update on classic friendship stories like Frog and Toad and George and Martha.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2 Ages 5, 6, 7 Catina, who has just completed Life Through the Eyes of a Cat, looks forward to winning prizes and being famous. Houndsley thinks that the book is terrible, but spares her feelings by telling her that her writing leaves him speechless. He is such a good cook that Catina and their friend Burt convince him to enter a cooking contest, but he is so nervous that he undercooks the rice and leaves out the beans in his three-bean chili. In the end, Houndsley realizes that he is happy to experience the joy of cooking; he can live without fame, and Catina confesses that she does not enjoy the process of writing. Houndsley suggests that she can be famous for something else and tells her that she is good at being a friend. Catina purrs: Being your friend is better than being famous. Gay presents distinctive watercolor, pencil, and collage illustrations in varying layouts to illuminate the story. The dog and cat exude emotion and motion in modest, vintage homes and beautiful outdoor settings. This intimate look at friendship is a welcome addition to series such as Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad (HarperCollins) and Elissa Haden Guest's Iris and Walter (Harcourt). Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
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Gr. 2-4 Ages 7, 8, 9, 10, younger for reading aloud. Catina (a cat) and Houndsley (you guessed it, a dog) are best friends, and they encourage each other as best friends do. Houndsley is mortified when he reads his friend's novel-in-progress, and realizes that Catina has little writing talent. "I'm at a loss for words," he finally musters, satisfying Catina, who seems focused on literary prizes and fame instead of the actual writing. Then Catina encourages Houndsley to enter a cooking competition, and he's so nervous that he fouls the recipe and endures the judges' mockery. Together the friends confess that, rather than simply enjoying their activities, they secretly wanted to become famous. This early chapter book, while emphasizing doing what you love, not what will bring acknowledgment, is heavy-handed. But it will still hit home with kids just learning about their own particular talents and passions, and the lively, brisk writing is wonderfully extended in Gay's airy watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, which keep the focus on the caring friends. Gillian Engberg
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