Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Oliver and Philbert Have No Time for Party Animals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Oliver and Philbert Have No Time for Party Animals

Article excerpt

Byline: Brandy Hilboldt Allport


Author and illustrator: Mika Song

Data: HarperCollins, $17.99; ages 4 to 8

Oliver the cat is unusual. He talks to himself a lot, and likes to eat cookies and drink tea.

"It's a nice day for tea, but who will have tea with me?" he asks himself.

"Me! I'll have tea."

That last comment came from Philbert the Mouse, who lives under the couch at Oliver's house. Philbert feels too shy to come out from under the couch and Oliver cannot hear him.

Philbert, ever the resourceful soul, decides to write a letter to his would-be-friend, Oliver. He pens it carefully and leaves it in plain sight. Unfortunately, Oliver accidentally sweeps the note back under the couch.

Philbert, undaunted, tries again. This time, he send the note by airmail. (He attaches a rubber band to a leg of the couch and fashions a slingshot, as revealed in the watercolor-and-ink illustration.) When the note zings into Oliver's side, Oliver thinks he is being attacked by fleas. He scratches and accidentally bats the note to the ground. Philbert's plans are foiled again.

As Philbert wonders what to do next, there is a knock on Oliver's door.

It is Cousin Lester. Still lonely for a mate during snack time, Oliver asks Cousin Lester to have tea.

"I'm throwing a party," Cousin Lester says. "But I guess there could be tea."

Philbert overhears this exchange and laments: "What, a tea party without me?" The gall of the situation spurs Philbert to march straight over to Oliver and hand him the note. However, guests for Cousin Lester's party, which his being hosted at Oliver's place, begin to arrive. The mouse is deterred.

A cat brings a cello. Other cats bounce on the couch. Lester leaps about with his banjo, while still other cats cavort in Oliver's living room, pulling at curtains and acting too much like hooligans to pause for the cupcakes proffered by Oliver. In the corner of the double-page spread, readers can see poor Philbert. He is on the floor commenting about the chaos: "I don't like this party one bit."

When Oliver goes around the living room offering cups of his beloved tea to guests, he is ignored. …

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