Written and illustrated by Nina Laden
Author-artist Nina Laden has taken her trademark wit and applied it to one
of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Just as with her award-winning titles “The Night I Followed the Dog” (inspired by movies of the 1940’s) and “When Pigasso Met Mootisse” (inspired by the world of fine art), the tone of the text and the style of art both perfectly match the story- with hilarious results.
Adults familiar with the classic love story will delight in the many
references to the original play, all of which make this a rarity: a
children’s book they’ll want to read again and again. And young children
who know nothing of the Bard will be riveted by this funny yet touching tale about Romeow the cat and Drooliet the dog, two star-crossed lovers who meet by chance, marry in secret and are kept apart by a snarling rottweiler, appalled owners and the animal control warden. The clever details throughout the book belie the careful research behind this homage to true love won and lost- and in the case of this book won again- proving once and for all that dogs and cats can be friends.
With “a wag of the tail to Shakespeare,” Laden recasts the star-crossed lovers as house petsÑalbeit in a mix of modern and Renaissance courtly dress in the dashing, canted-perspective illustrations. They belong to the Felini and Barker families who meet, marry and then survive encounters with spike-collared rottweiler Turbo, animal-control warden Officer Prince and finally, a speeding automobile. Breaking occasionally into unabashed (and, considering the cast, appropriate) doggerel, Laden thoroughly reworks the plot, too, though she does leave in the party scene and the balcony scene: “Romeow licked Drooliet on her face. / His whiskers tickled but she smiled with grace. / ‘We shall be married,’ said young Romeow. / ‘I’ll be with you forever, starting now.’ ” Readers fond of Mary Jane Auch’s equally clever animal send-ups, from Poultrygeist (2003) on, will be rolling in the aisles. (Picture book. 7-9)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL:
Gr 2-6-A delightful parody of Shakespeare’s most famous love story. Romeow (the Felinis’ favorite cat) and his brothers decide to attend a costume ball at the home of the cat-hating Barkers, where Romeow, of course, instantly falls madly, passionately in puppy-love with the beautiful Drooliet. Starry-eyed, they gaze at one another, dance, and enact the famous balcony scene, finally marrying in secret. Of course, their joy is short-lived as Turbo, the Barkers’ rottweiler, decides to defend his family’s honor and attacks Romeow and his brothers. At this point, the animal control warden leaps into the fray, catching Romeow and forcing the other animals to scramble for cover. Later, when Drooliet tries to run toward her imprisoned lover, she is struck down by a car, and only Romeow’s selfless act of giving up one of his nine lives allows her to survive. No funeral, no gloom and doom-the families unite, and the loving couple goes off on a glorious honeymoon. As in When Pigasso Met Mootisse (Chronicle, 1998), Laden has created a spoof that is sure to delight its intended audience. Moving smoothly between humorous poetry and fast-moving, witty prose, she has successfully fashioned the story into a modern, happy tale. The gouache illustrations are well rendered, brightly colored, and filled with realistic details to frame the ironic twists of the story.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS By Samantha Critchell
Can’t make it to the zoo today? How about the library or bookstore?
Children, who seem to have an unending appetite to learn about animals, should find some satisfaction in the seemingly unending supply of picture books that highlight cute and fuzzy creatures.
Many of these animals aren’t your ordinary, run-of-the-mill cute cat or mischievous mutt, though. They’ve got personalities, problems and all seem to have the gift of gab.
“May I have this dance?” asks a disguised member of the Felini family of an angelic Barker in Romeow and Drooliet (Chronicle, $16.95, ages 8 and up) by Nina Laden. It’s a charming introduction to William Shakespeare’s classic play that’s still full of drama and suspense but also has a heavy dose of comedy.
Of course, the young lovers’ families fight like cats and dogs. Having the characters as pets, though, somehow makes it easier to see how ridiculous their battles over turf and appearance really are.
Love conquers all in the end, with Romeow giving his bride a wedding gift: one of his nine lives.
Romeow & Drooliet
Written and illustrated by Nina Laden
ISBN# 0-8118-3973-7 (Hardcover)
Ages 5-12 (and up)
Published by Chronicle Books 2005