Cat Tricks

Keith Baker, Author Harcourt Children's Books $15 (44p) ISBN 978-0-15-292857-5
An oblong format with alternating half pages provides the arena for a cat to show off his secret talents in this unprepossessing book. Turning each vertical half-page transforms a quotidian image into a whimsical one (e.g., a blue-green curtain becomes a waterfall the cat canoes down, a doll's skirt converts into a circus tent in which the cat performs). The pairings seem to be determined by what actions will provide an easy rhyme, as in the first spreads, when fruit and flowers become materials for juggling, and a hat turns into a ship: ""My cat can.../ juggle all of these,/ my cat can.../ sail the seven seas."" The illustrations can be difficult to decipher, as their center is the book's binding (which often cuts across the cat's face). Baker's (Hide and Snake) flattened, scratchily textured artwork, sometimes evoking folk art, is crowded with uniformly intense colors: the cat's lavender-accented white markings and backgrounds of mottled turquoise or mustard establish a rather visually discordant palette. These cat's ""tricks"" form a mixed-bag. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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