A yellow, tiger-striped cat accosts readers at the start of this comical picture book. "Stop! Stop reading right now! This book is for CATS only!" it shouts, pointing to a red diary-style book titled "Cat Secrets." Before giving up said secrets, the cat and two compatriots examine readers' feline credentials. "Okay, if you're really a cat, let's hear you meow," says the cat. On the next spread, the three cats' huge eyes face readers, giving them time to chime in; sufficiently impressed with the meowing, the cats move on to other tests. If somewhat generic, Czekaj's expressive, high-contrast, high-energy cartoons put the cats front and center, emphasizing their direct addresses to readers; a mouse, who repeatedly tries to steal the book, provides additional comedy. The cats' actions are represented both visually as well as with words (as they "leap," "whisper," and "yawn"). Although the appeals for reader interaction may make for a rowdy read-aloud, Czekaj cleverly slows the book's pace at the end by demanding that readers take a catnap. It's easy to see this one being read just before preschool naptime. Ages 3-6. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
K-Gr 2--For anyone who has ever suspected that cats have their own secret society, this amusing book proves it. Three felines prepare to read Cat Secrets, a book so precious it's kept in a protective glass case. But first they need to make sure that there are no noncats around, and begin their investigations. They break through the fourth wall and directly challenge readers to meow, purr, and stretch. They take some convincing, and are so preoccupied with readers that they do not see a mouse sneaking around them, angling to snatch the book himself. The cats' willingness to read their secrets aloud hinges on one final test (taking a nap), which they proceed to do, giving the mouse free access to the tome. Czekaj's cartoons done in a palette of primary colors and with expressive use of speech bubbles and eyebrows make this a comedic gem. The book has obvious appeal as a read-aloud, with its instructions and large-format cartoons, but it has the intimacy of a story to be read independently. Emerging readers who have cut their teeth on Mo Willems's similarly chatty "Elephant and Piggie" series (Hyperion) will feel more than capable of tackling this book.--Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA[Page 72]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.