Title: Can’t Catch Me!
Author: Timothy Knapman
Illustrator: Simona Cirolo
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s picture book
Description: This is Jake, the fastest mouse in the world. NO ONE can catch him. Not the fox, not the wolf, not even the bear. Poor Old Tom Cat doesn’t stand a chance. Or…does he?
My Review: This is an interesting and funny picture book with a good overall message although I don’t think the ending will be one that many kids will enjoy. ‘Can’t Catch Me!’ is wider than A4 in size although shorter and is filled with thick matt pages with some great colourful illustrations. The book follows Jake, the fastest mouse in the world, he’s faster than everyone including Old Tom Cat, at least that’s what he thinks…
The book starts with Jake, the fastest mouse in the world, proving to Old Tom how fast he is by running away from him. Poor Old Tom can’t catch him and Jake continues to run, until he meets another animal who wants to eat him. The story is quite repetitive but in a fun way. Jake spots other animals such as a fox and shows off, telling him he’s so fast Old Tom Cat couldn’t catch him, but the fox doesn’t believe him and chases him until Jake gets away. Each animal he meets he’s faster than and the book follows the same pattern until the ending.
The illustrations of the story are great. I really do like the way each animal is drawn, although I wasn’t sure about them when I first saw this book. I didn’t like the way Jake looked but this but it turns out this is a good look for this mouse considering what a show off he is and how he becomes a bit unlikable with it. I do like the way all the animals look, especially the expressions they all have. Each image is colourful and there’s some humour in each drawing.
Although as an adult I found the ending of this story funny and I liked the message of not showing off and being humble, I do worry about the ending of this book as I know it would have upset me when I was a child. I don’t normally like to give away spoilers to book reviews but in order to explain why this is upsetting I feel the need to reveal the ending in the following paragraph:
Being a tale about not showing off and being humble, at the end Jake manages to run so fast he runs around the whole world and ends up where he started, with Old Tom Cat. He starts boasting about how fast he’s run and who he has outrun but Old Tom is weak from not eating and asks Jake to repeat what he said while standing closer. Jake keeps repeating all the while Old Tom asks him to get closer, close enough for him to suddenly eat Jake. The last page after the story has Old Tom in a framed picture with the caption ‘The Cleverest Cat in the World’.
As an adult I found this ending was funny and it didn’t bother me, and may not bother some older kids who read this, but I know that I was sensitive as a young child and seeing the mouse, no matter how annoying he was, suddenly eaten at the ending would have really distressed and upset me.
I also feel it’s a missed opportunity as I think it would have been a better ending if the cat could have caught the mouse, to teach him a lesson, without eating him, or spat him out at the end.
Although this is a funny story with a great message which plenty of kids and older will enjoy, the shock ending is one which some kids won’t like and may be very upset about. Whether this book will be enjoyed by kids will really depend on the individual children and how old they are, and I’d be wary of giving this to kids without knowing whether they’ll be able to cope with the ending and enjoy the book or not.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.
What do you think of this book? What about picture books like this with a twist to their end? Let me know any thoughts you have, I’d love to hear from you 🙂
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