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The Secret Life of Walter Kitty by Barbara Jean Hicks, illustrated by Dan Santat

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty gets off to a perfect start with Walter, lounging in a tree, telling the reader that "My Person doesn't know it, but my real name is Fang." After that, we are treated to scenes of Fang in action, being equally terrifying to mice and scurvy pirates, as well as those featuring Walter (AKA Wally) being treated to catnip and cuddles (as well as irritating the heck out of His Person and her husband, Mr. Biddle, as he "helps" around the house). Santat skillfully captures Walter's expressions, which convey his alternating bravado and sheepish willingness to accept silly nicknames when they are accompanied by treats. The only thing I'd like to have seen would be more of Walter's adventures as Fang - one of things that makes Thurber's original Secret Life of Walter Mitty so great is that his adventures dominate the rest of his life so effectively. Here, not so much. The illustrations are engaging and fun, though, and the dominant colors (orange, yellow, and brown tones) remind us that it really is Walter's world we're living in, whether he's Fang or "Snookums." Alfred A. Knopf, 2007