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"Bandit's Surprise" Written by Karen Rostoker-Gruber Illustrated by Vincent Nguyen (Two Lions, 2010)
This is a sequel to Karen Rostoker-Gruber's 2008 picturebook, "Bandit," a story about a cat getting adopted from the animal shelter. In this second book Bandit is happy in his home, but things get turned upside down when Bandit's people bring -- aaaaaaahhhh!! -- a new kitten home, and Bandit suddenly has to share his cozy world with another cat. The older cat is grouchy throughout, but shows a hint of acceptance towards the end, as the kitten shares his food bowl and invites Bandit to play.
This book can be taken as a parable for kids with new siblings (not that there's any shortage of books on that subject) but I think it's meant to be a straight-up story about bringing a new pet into your home. The emotional subtexts are interesting, but the book is flawed in that it doesn't show readers what you're *actually* supposed to do when you bring a new cat into your house, which is to keep them in a separate room for a few days until the cats are ready to meet, and the original cat feels less threatened. Instead, the author throws the two cats together immediately, and Bandit's irritation is pretty understandable. The lack of resolution in the plot is odd -- Rostoker-Gruber hints at the two cats getting along eventually, but we don't see it in the book. This ambiguity is interesting in a kid's book, but not entirely satisfying.
I also wasn't fond of the artwork, which was a little too simple for my tastes, with a look that reminded me of the kind of art you might see in a dental hygiene brochure. Nguyen shows some subtle emotion in the cats' faces, but the overall graphic design is a little too sparse. An okay book, and a great concept for an animal-loving kids' story, but the execution didn't totally wow me. (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain children's book reviews)
Bandit's Surprise is story recommend for children age 3-5 years old about a cat that isn't happy and feels threatened when a new kitten is abruptly added to the family. Nobody really likes change so it isn't a huge surprise when Bandit is upset when a new member of the family is sprung on him.
The art style of this book has a comic feel featuring word bubbles and panels on numerous pages within. The color are a bit muted but have a neat retro feel with dot style patterning.
Throughout the story we see that instead of kindly welcoming to the new kitten into the family, Bandit lashes out and doesn't make the new kitten feel welcome in the least. Bandit eventually gets fed up with all the changes and runs away out of his anger. When running away, Bandit eventually finds himself miserable and stuck in the pouring rain all alone. He eventually makes his way back home and is rescued from the great outdoors by none other than the new kitten Mitzi.
The story wraps up with Bandit accepting the new kitten but still having some issues. It's a good talking point to discuss and story end to know that things like this take time to get adjusted too. I believe this tale would best be read to children when a new pet may end up being added to the family or when the arrival of a new sibling is expected.
This is a good children's book, about a housecat, Bandit, and his feeling when his owner bring home a new kitten, Mitzy. Bandit is threatened and frustrated, but eventually learns to tolerate Mitzy, if not exactly to love her.
The reading level is in that gray area between board books and chapter books, and would be a good bridge for cat loving kids who are done with board books, maybe at the 5-7 year old level for many. The art is an interesting play on comic books, with the colored dot style of newsprint comics, and a combination of narration and word balloons. The cats are cute, and this might be good to help prepare a child for the arrival of a sibling.
Ultimately, though, I couldn't go beyond three stars. I thought this was a fine children's book, but it didn't quite stand out in any area - story, moral, or art style- and I'll be surprised if my daughter pulls it off the shelf with any regularity.
As Bandit, a fan of cat puns, might say, it was good, but just didn't "we-wow" me.
Meh. My 6-year-old and I read this together, and neither of us were particularly wowed. Bandit is a grumpy cat who is not at all happy when a new kitten arrives. In fact, he's so aggravated that he runs away and his owner doesn't notice. She doesn't notice until finally the new kitten meows at the door enough for the owner to check to see if someone is out there. Yep, it's Bandit, drenched from the rain and vaguely appreciative that the kitten saved him from "mew-monia."
There are lots of plays on words here, which I didn't think were all that clever, and the story stops shy of actually being heartwarming. At the end, Bandit has just grudgingly accepted the kitten, but that's as far as it goes.
It was all a little too dark for the age group, and the point seemed to be "Don't be too mean to your siblings in case you need them to save your life one day when your parents neglect you."
It was an okay read, but not something we'd purposely reach for again.
In Bandit's Surprise, the only human in the story, Michelle, brings home a new kitten for Bandit and her to share their lives with. Bandit is none too happy and runs away, only to come back when the rain proves uncomfortable. In the end, Bandit and the kitten seem to have an uneasy coexistence.
The story is told half in narration and half through Bandit's thoughts (often expressed with puns) in comic book-style balloons, and the drawings are pretty much like the one on the cover (though the kitten is considerably cuter than Bandit).
Bandit's Surprise strikes me as an interesting children's book. With a complete absence of children as characters, the book will probably have young readers identifying with Bandit. On the one hand, the story might simply be a cute story of a cat having to adjust to a new arrival. On the other hand, parents might use it to help children deal with changes to their own lives.
This is a story that's told quite often. An established pet is jealous of a new addition. Bandit's Surprise doesn't offer up much new in this latest interpretation. What makes this book unique are the illustrations. The muted colors, digital design, thought balloons, and panel layouts are reminiscent of comic books. The characters themselves are very expressive, and Bandit's thought balloon zingers are the only bright points in a somewhat mediocre story. I especially enjoyed the illustrator's color choices in the night scenes. He strikes the perfect balance between darkness and luminescence.
While I found nothing striking in this story of sibling/pet rivalry, I did admire these illustrations so much that this okay story easily becomes a four star recommend. Young readers eager for their first experience with comic style will gravitate toward this simple yet stylish tale.
My youngest daughter's beloved cat is named Bandit, so the title jumped out at me. Thankfully, the story doesn't detract from the name significance. Bandit's Surprise is a uniquely illustrated (using a dot fashion that reminds me of old comic books) tale about a cat who gets a new roommate, a kitten. Bandit is territorial and grumpy, and doesn't respond well to the new addition to the home he shares with his master. There is some clever wordplay on the word "meow" that might be a good early language/decoding/context clue lesson for a youngster. It also has a lesson about adapting to new people, ideal perhaps for a child about to become a big brother/sister.
Overall, I liked it well enough, particularly the illustrations, and believe it would make a nice gift for a cat lover, new sibling, or a primary aged teacher looking to expand their classroom library. 3. 5 stars.