Monday, December 6, 2010

The Cat's Pajamas


An excellent definition for idiom from the first page of the book: "a group of words whose meaning cannot be understood from the meaning of the individual words; an expression, peculiar to a specific language, that cannot be translated literally. As adults, we take these phrases for granted, never realizing how strange they may seem to kids or someone learning our language.  We are so used to hearing these expressions that we don't usually give much thought to what they would mean literally. And that's exactly what makes this book so fun - we see our casually used expressions in a whole new light!

Each page has a large, very detailed illustration depicting a literal translation of an idiom.  Each expression is also used in a sentence that acurately describes the illustration.  Yes, it's a clever concept, but I'm taken aback at how excellently it is executed. "As Judge of the Tiny Tot Talent Contest, Leon had to face the music." And sure enough, there sits poor Leon, with his majestic mane completely blown back by the force of the music from the tiny chipmunk.      

In case you need a bit of assistance, the very last page provides the idiom and a brief explanation of what the saying means. To go along with the cover image and title, the author has included one more tiny detail to keep us on our toes: at least one cat is hidden on every single page. Some stand out and some are a bit of a challenge, but the hunt is part of the fun. The last idiom is Princess in her pj's from the cover, but with a slight change. Instead of a playing card, the kitty grips a small note under her paw that says "Did you find a hidden cat on each page?" 

I love that this book is dual purpose by teaching us about idioms in a very clever and humorous way. My only regret is that he did not include "ears are ringing" AND "ears are burning" as I know many adults who don't understand the difference. This is actually the second book of illustrated idioms by Wallace Edwards.  His first, Monkey Business, was released in 2004, which I have no doubt was equally brilliant. 

Review copy provided by Kids Can Press.

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