Watson, Tom. Stick Cat: A Tale of Two Kitties
May 3rd 2016 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Young Adult Books Central
Stick Cat and his friend Edith live at the top of a very tall apartment house. They have managed to scratch a hole through the wall inside bathroom cabinets so that they can visit each other. They have several games they like to play, but they also like to listen to Mr. Music in the next building tune pianos. When a nearby car crash causes Mr. Music to get stuck inside a piano, Stick Cat springs to action, with the somewhat less cautious and intelligent Edith to help him. Edith is also very daring, and is willing to jump into a neighbor's apron that is hanging on a movable clothesline. The two manage to get into Mr. Music's building, and Edith manages to save the day, although her obsession with grooming her fur almost ends with Stick Cat falling from the clothes line. In the end, everything is okay, and the cats rest up for their next (I hope!) adventure!
Strengths: This is the sort of notebook novel that the children enjoy but that I find clever as well. Stick Cat's love of adventure and willingness to help Mr. Music was charming, and the fact that this was very different from Stick Dog was appreciated.
Weaknesses: Edith's complaints about her weight, as well as her air headedness and insistence on grooming were cat like, but also vaguely sexist. I appreciate that she saved the day, but was still a little uncomfortable with her portrayal.
What I really think: Interested to see what the next book will bring, and very sad that there will be no Stick Chicken.
Watson, Tom. Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts (Stick Dog #5)
January 5th 2016 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central
With autumn approaching, food is scarce for Stick Dog and his friends. Since they can't climb trees and get apples from the orchard, they must forage the best they can, but all they can find is rubber gloves and balls, which Poo-Poo thinks are food and the rest do not. When they see a man working on utility poles take a box out of his truck, the dogs investigate whether the deflated ball looking objects are edible. Karen also discovers the man's coffee and drinks the entire cup. After deciding that donuts are in fact food, the group tries a variety of tactics, including deflating the man's tires, to abscond with the box of donuts. Stick Dog and Poo-Poo also use the crane on the truck to climb into the apple trees to dislodge some of the fruit, and Poo-Poo gets his chance to finally come face-to-face with his archenemy, the squirrel!
Tom Watson worked as a speech writer for Ohio governor Richard Celeste, which makes me very sad that I didn't pay more attention to the speeches! He has an excellent ear for what makes things funny to both young readers and the adults who have to read the books as well. I read vast passages of this aloud to a friend because I found Karen's reaction to the coffee so funny, and Poo-Poo's rant about the evilness of squirrels is exactly how I imagine my own dog would sound if she could vocalize her own feelings about this "archenemy".
Aside from being hysterically funny, this series is great at showing a group of friends with disparate talents working together toward a mutual goal. The dogs all have their own quirks, and it's amazing how much emotion and humor Watson can pack into a simple line drawing. As far as plot goes, it's not much of a spoiler to say that the dogs do eventually get the donuts, even though they are vastly concerned about the one bleeding strawberry scented blood!
Any young reader who enjoys notebook novels like Big Nate or Wimpy Kid, or has any interest in dogs or humor, will adore Stick Dog. I highly recommend giving the entire series to a young person in your life to whom you read aloud. That way, you can laugh at the antics of Stick Dog and his friends together, and have a great time imitating Karen in all of her caffeinated glory!
October 4, 2016! Can't wait!