Rex Tabby

By Daniel Kirk
Orchard, 2014
Rex Tabby

Book Description
Rex tabby is the world’s best detective, and he always catches his crooks. Ma Manx and her furry feline family, Rumpy and Stumpy, are a bunch of kitty criminals who let their appetite get the best of them. When Ma Manx and her kittens steal fish from the Fin-tastic Fish Company, Rumpy and Stumpy escape, leaving Ma to be captured and placed behind bars. Will Rex and his partner, Si Meese, catch Rumpy and Stumpy, or will the brother-sister team free Ma from the slammer?

Reviews of Rex Tabby: Cat Detective

Review from Kirkus
Rex’s square-jawed, trench-coated figure gives nearly every spread that “Naked City” look, and as Ma Manx’s bickering offspring are even less capable, the clawed Clouseau does eventually catch them up. Chet Gecko’s still top egg in the hardboiled department, but life’s going to be no bowl of cream for crooks with Rex-and sidekicks Si Meese and Frankie Fluff-on the case. 

Review from Children’s Literature
Writer-illustrator Daniel Kirk has created an endearingly silly mystery story for younger readers. Rex Tabby, “the greatest cat detective the world has ever known,” is a suitably egocentric tough guy up against the Manx Gang-Ma and her darling kittens, Rumpy and Stumpy. With Ma and her kids always one step ahead, Tabby has plenty of time to end each chapter with lessons from his Junior Detective School. These observation quizzes are easy, but occasionally Kirk has a little fun throwing in things like archaic terms for jail. Kirk’s black-and-white comic book-style illustrations are broadly humorous and add to the general fun. This is a good book for reluctant summer readers.

Review from Booklist
The light-hearted tone is highlighted by the gray-wash cartoon-style pictures, which appear on every page and feature plenty of action and lots of laughs. Each chapter ends with quizzes and activities for junior detectives. Many of them are a stretch, but kids will enjoy playing along. 

Daniel Kirk speaks about Rex Tabby: Cat Detective
The saga of Rex Tabby started with a poem called Police Car, featured in my book Go! The poem is about a pair of cat policemen who race through the city in their patrol car, catching cat burglars and fish thieves.

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My editor at Hyperion Books liked the characters I had invented, and thought that I could make an entire book based on the same group of cats. He also wondered if a subject like this could be made into a chapter book, instead of a standard picture book. I was only too happy to write a book in a longer format. I was also interested in writing a book that did not rhyme!

The first thing I did when working on Rex Tabby was to sketch a dozen or more characters who could be involved in the plot. I made up a lot of different police characters, and many, many bad guys for the police to chase. Some of the bad guys were really ugly and bad looking, and some were just plain silly. I made up personalities for each of the characters I had drawn, and wrote it all down. Then I sat back and waited to see what sorts of stories might develop from putting my characters into different situations.

The result?  Rex Tabby, Cat Detective, and an amusing tale about a couple of naughty kittens on the run from the furry arm of the law.

Things to think about and do after reading Rex Tabby, Cat Detective

1. Rex Tabby is a cat in human clothes, but he could have been any kind of animal! Draw a picture of your favorite animal, and put the animal in a detective outfit.
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Do you think he or she would be good at solving crimes? Then pick an animal you don’t like, and draw them in criminal garb. What kinds of trouble do you think your character would get up to?

2. In Rex Tabby, Cat Detective, the kittens Rumpy and Stumpy Manx go to jail for helping their mom steal fish. Do you think this is a good punishment for them? Why, or why not? Do you think the kittens would be better off with their mom in jail, or someplace else?

3. There are many, many books in which animal characters take on the role of human beings and solve human problems. Some of them are policemen, or detectives. Check out some of these books at your library, and see if you think the kind of animal is a good choice for the kind of adventure he or she undergoes!

                              Copyright 2015 | Daniel Kirk