Our mama was the best mama in the whole wide world. She did all sorts of stuff for us. She gave us milk so we would grow up to be big and strong. And she gave us baths with her tongue, which was dry and rough, but it felt good anyway.
You can probably guess that the narrator of Bill Wallace’s Snot Stew is not human, but is instead Kikki the kitten, who is left alone with her brother Toby when first mama cat abandons them and the rest of their siblings leave the barn where they were born. Kikki and Toby are adopted by a family of “people things” and Snot Stew is the story of how they adjust to domestic life. Toby is more adventurous and adapts easily, while Kikki spends a lot of time cowering underneath The Couch.
But they both love the stew that The Mother feeds them, so they feel tricked with their people things Ben and Sarah start playing what they come to recognize as the Snot Stew game. But Toby is also playing a game with Butch the outside dog, which becomes treacherous and allows Kikki to be brave and save the day.
Snot Stew is a silly book that, as an adult, I flew through. Like Charlotte’s Web, it has really clever and amusing illustrations that enhance the book. I don’t know how many times I read this book as a kid – my book fair copy is battered and worn – but I know I haven’t read it once since I started recording my reading at thirteen. It’s funny that it’s impossible for the adult in me not to see the clear takeaway message that Wallace, a former schoolteacher, built into the book (it’s better to share, especially with siblings), but as a kid, I think I was way too distracted by the silliness and the adventure to consciously realize it was there.
The only other book of Wallace’s that I read was Buffalo Gal, a Western adventure with a female protagonist, that I also must’ve read before I was thirteen, because it’s not on my reading record. I was pretty sad when I saw during my research that January 30th will be the two-year anniversary of Bill Wallace’s death. Though it’s been about twenty years since I read either one of these books, they were integral to making me the person and reader that I am today.