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Bill Slavin
Kids Can Press, 1992. 32pp, cloth, $11.95
ISBN 1-55074-071-7. CIP

Subject Heading:
Children's songs.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9

Reviewed by Brenda Partridge

Volume 20 Number 6
1992 November

Old Mister Johnson had
troubles of his own
He had a yellow cat that
wouldn't leave his home

He tried and tried
to give that cat away,
He found an ocean Iiner
goin' far, far away

But the cat came back
the very next day,
The cat came back,
they thought he was a goner,
The cat came back,
he just wouldn't stay away.

When Bill Slavin was in grade 3, he sang The Cat Came Back for show-and-tell. He has now taken his favourite childhood song and illustrated it. Many of the original versions of this song have lyrics that involve violence. Slavin has reinterpreted the song in a humorous way because he believes that "It's important that everyone stays alive in this picture book."

Because the cat has just taken over his home and left it in a dismal state, Mr. Johnson tries to send his pet on an ocean line, a hot air balloon to the moon, and a train heading west. The cat comes back using space ships, stage coaches and taxis. Even when a cyclone hits, the cat and his seven kittens survive and stay with the frenzied Mr. Johnson.

The humour of the book comes through strongly because of Slavin's colourful, cartoonlike full-page illustrations. From the moon's green cheese to the yard sale of cat belongings, Slavin's attention to detail fosters the humorous approach and gives the book a wide range of appeal. At the end of the book, the music has been included with the lyrics.

This book is much like Too Many Chickens, Lemonade Parade and Sitting on the Farm, also illustrated by Slavin. I am pleased to add this book to our school's collection.

Highly recommended.

Brenda Partridge is a library-resource teacher at Percy Centennial Public School in Warkworth, Ontario.
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