PUSS IN BOOTS: The Adventures of That Most Enterprising Feline

Philip Pullman, Author, Ian Beck, Illustrator , illus. by Ian Beck. Knopf $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-81354-2

Pullman sets a pleasingly flip tone from the start as he retells the tale with gusto. After the miller's death, his property is divided among his three sons; "As for the youngest son, Jacques, all he got was— 'The cat?' said Jacques. 'Father's left me the cat?' " How Puss takes charge ("I've got the wit, if you'll supply the courage," he tells his new master) and helps secure Jacques's future by passing him off as the Marquis of Carabas, makes for a rollicking read. The two encounter a cast of colorful characters, including their landlord, Monsieur Ogre; solve a trio of mysteries; and save the King of France's daughter from the ogre's clutches (she, of course, marries Jacques). Pullman packs his irreverent prose with sly asides ("O mighty and fragrant Ogre," gushes Puss) and lively asides ("In his foul and filthy castle, the ogre was getting peckish"). Beck's crosshatch pen-and-watercolor illustrations, primarily framed as panel vignettes with speech and thought bubbles, keep things percolating visually. He gussies up Puss in an outfit that would do D'Artagnan proud and adds numerous droll touches, including a quartet of hilarious portraits of the Ogre's prospective brides. A fun frolic. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
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