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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Rupert Can Dance

by Jules Feiffer


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Rupert Can Dance

by Jules Feiffer

Review posted January 27, 2015.
Michael di Capua Books, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Jules Feiffer, the genius behind Bark, George, has another simple-but-powerful kid-pleaser here.

Rupert is a cat. His owner, Mandy, dances all day long, and Rupert loves to watch her dance. Mandy only stops dancing when she goes to sleep – and that’s when Rupert starts.

You can not believe how good he was.

Not just a good dancer, but also a quiet dancer.

Dancing was Rupert’s secret!

And the last thing he wanted was for Mandy to wake up and find out.

Rupert loved having a secret from Mandy. Cats love secrets

and Rupert took great pride that his secret was one of the best ever.

But then, one night, Mandy wakes up unexpectedly and learns Rupert’s secret. And, to Rupert’s horror, she wants to give him dancing lessons.

Rupert was mortified. The fun in dancing was to do it his own way. In secret. And without having to take lessons.

Dogs might qualify for lessons, but Rupert was a cat.

Cats are not meant for lessons. Cats are free spirits.

Rupert stays under Mandy’s bed for three days. Until finally Mandy hatches a plan for getting Rupert interested in life – and dancing – again.

Part of the charm of this book is Jules Feiffer’s loose, enthusiastic drawings. I like the exuberance of the dancing girl and dancing cat. I like the picture of Mandy thinking about Rupert – line drawings of Rupert are superimposed all over Mandy, perfectly symbolizing how he’s intruding into her thoughts.

I also like the way Rupert is such a quintessential cat. Cats indeed love secrets. I believe that. And a cat would indeed blanch at being offered lessons, like a dog.

Here’s a book that at least will not get children trying to teach their cats to dance. But it may get them wondering what secrets their own cats are hiding.