- Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah OHora
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-7352-2791-0 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-525-55257-4 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R 4-8 yrs
Ralph and Niblet are orange, black, and white cats who live in the same apartment building, and they’re best friends. One day, the cats try to visit each other and inadvertently swap places, leaving their human owners suspicious about the changes in their pets. The two children make posters and set out to find out why their cats have been replaced by imposters, and soon they bump into each other and get their pets back home—and also end up friends. Ralph and Niblet’s tale of mistaken identity is warmly humorous, sure to elicit giggles without getting young listeners too wound up before naptime. Kids who have worried about a lost pet will empathize with Dilla and Gemma and be reassured by the happy ending (and the fact that neither cat was ever in any peril). Bold acrylic illustrations dominated by red, gold, and teal are ideal for viewers, with thick black outlines and simple expressive features on children and animals alike. Additional dialogue in speech bubbles and smaller details in the artwork invite independent reading, and older kids will enjoy reading to and with younger siblings and classmates. Though it begins with the two cats, this story of friendship is just as focused on bringing together Gemma, Dilla, and their parents. Their interracial friendship takes root against the backdrop of a vibrant, diverse neighborhood that audiences will want to revisit.