But Who Will Bell the Cats?
Buhler, Cynthia von
. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children , Houghton Mifflin Harcourt . Boston/NY
PZ8.2.B94 But 2009 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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The dust-jacket mentions appropriately Cynthia von Buhler's work has been compared to a trip down an ornate rabbit hole. The artist created rooms by hand out of wood, with walls made by plaster. She painted characters in oils on gessoed paper, cut them out, and placed them in the sets. She then photographed the scenes. Notice the s that gets onto the last word in the title's question. It is a clue that the story takes a different turn. Aesop's version is told on the first page with the usual question But who will bell the cat? Here in this story a princess pampers her eight cats, while a mouse and a brown bat live as friends in the drafty cellar. Mouse's first attempt at belling -- with armor and a sword -- fails so miserably that the cats play ping-pong with him until the bat distracts them. In their next attempt, they dress up as a dog but are soon spotted. This time the cats play Mouse Floor Hockey until the bat distracts them. A third attempt results in preparation of bat and mouse pies. Here the princess intervenes, washes them off, gives them a fruit-basket, and kisses each on the nose. Inspired by her kindness, the mouse wraps a birthday gift for her. The birthday gift is eight bell-necklaces for the cats. It is the princess that bells the cats! In the final picture, the bat and the mouse are at last enjoying the good life upstairs. Aesop's text appears on several of the scraps that appear during the story. I am surprised that I had not heard of this book in this country. I got it instead from a bookshop in Ireland! The book seems not to reveal where it was printed.