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Mattoo, Let's Play! Hardcover – February 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—Highly imaginative Ruby wants to play with Mattoo, her "shy" cat, who shuns her attempts at entertainment. As the child crashes and clangs pots and pans, or jumps up and down on her bed (with the napping feline under the covers), or wraps Mattoo up in a blanket for a rocket-ship ride, readers will understand his "shyness." He even eschews her invitation to share her special chocolate sundae and triple-decker jelly sandwiches. But Ruby's friend Clemente is always happy to play, and they ride their "jet-propelled scooters" into the deepest jungle. As huge creatures surround them, they decide to sit quietly and, sure enough, the fiercest, furriest creature of all appears. This clever, unique tale illustrates how "play" can be fun for humans but not so great for pets. Ruby is delightful, full of creativity and imagination. The use of acrylic ink and collage makes for stunning illustrations, combining remarkable pen-and-ink backgrounds with colorful renderings of the children, and the depiction of Mattoo is charming. This is a great read-aloud, but independent readers will enjoy the detail in the art.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Luxbacher, who illustrated Andrew Larsen's The Imaginary Garden (2009), a Book Links “Lasting Connections” choice, contributes both words and pictures in this celebration of imaginative play and the relationship between pet and child. “My Mattoo is a shy cat. He never wants to play,” announces puzzled young Ruby. In her dynamic, textured images, rendered in acrylic ink and collage, Luxbacher explains the source of Mattoo's skittishness: Ruby plays wild and rough, as she tries to force a terrified Mattoo into make-believe scenarios, such as a cardboard spaceship. Finally, while she and her friend pretend to be jungle explorers, Ruby tames Mattoo the wild beast with tuna snacks and gentle strokes and discovers that her pet is cuddly and playful after all. Luxbacher creates winsome comedy in the contrast between what Ruby says and what the pictures show, and like Peter Sís' work, her images explore the blurry border between reality and a child's invented world. Along with the laughs, young children with long-suffering pets may also pick up a few tips about treating animals with care. Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg