While I try not to have to, if put on the spot, I will say that one of my favorite picture books is Soon by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Patrick Benson. I think I am going to have to add Knapman's newest book, Can't Catch Me!, illustrated by Simona Ciraolo, to this list. Can't Catch Me! is a joy to read out loud, especially to younger listeners. I love the moment when they recognize the similarities Can't Catch Me! shares with the classic Gingerbread Man story as well as the moment when they predict the fate of Jake, the mouse.
Jake is the fastest mouse in the world and he is happy to tell you so. Old Tom Cat's "tummy is rumbling," and he just wants a bite to eat, but Jake is also a tease. He runs into the garden where Old Tom Cat gets tangled up, then he heads off into the fields. He meets all kinds of animals who would like to eat him but, after all, Jake is the fastest mouse in the world!
Ciarolo's illustrations are painterly, with a lovely palette of pastels, and filled with energy and humor. One of my favorite illustrations in Can't Catch Me! finds Jake bounding through a field of beige grasses with the fox close behind. Just the tip of the fox's tail and his eyes, ears and a bit of his snout are peeking above the grass, calling to mind the end of the story of the Gingerbread Man. Jake escapes a fox, a wolf and a bear, then he, "runs around the world - Yipee! - until he ends up right back where he started."The illustration shows Jake kicking Old Tom Cat's tail in triumph. Jake begins his bragging again, singing his song, taunting Old Tom Cat. But, Old Tom Cat has a few tricks of his own that may or may not surprise readers!
Can't Catch Me! has everything that little kids love in a picture book - a sassy character, a repeated refrain and a surprise - but deserved? - ending.
Source: Review Copy