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HILARY KNIGHT'S THE OWL AND THE PUSSY-CAT

Hilary Knight, Author, Hilary Knight, Illustrator, Edward Lear, Lyricist
Hilary Knight, Author, Hilary Knight, Illustrator, Edward Lear, Lyricist , illus. Hilary Knight. S&S $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-689-83927-6
Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-689-71331-6
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-02-750900-7
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In this gloriously madcap setting of Lear's classic, the famous nonsense poem of a nautical romance receives star treatment. Knight (Eloise) conceives of Lear's verses as a series of theatrical tableaux, with elaborate sets and exaggerated expressions big enough to be seen from the last row. He casts an eccentric old fellow who looks suspiciously like Lear (who appears as a bust on the title page) as Professor Comfort. The gentleman invites two schoolchildren (the boy bears an odd resemblance to an owl, the girl to a cat) in for tea and a little poetry. As he reads, the children morph magically into the animals in the poem, the walls of the cottage fall away and the pea-green window seat becomes the famous boat, adrift on a briny sea. The Owl and Pussy-cat court, marry and dance in the dazzling landscapes of the Land of Bong before turning back into children and running home for dinner. The illustrations reveal more delights with every inspection: hints of the animals to come can be detected in the children's clothing, earnest flying fish in the Land of Bong call the children's names as their mothers in the real world hunt for them, a replica of the professor's cottage—constructed entirely of edibles—appears in the Land of Bong. In Knight's hands, Lear's poem assumes a complete and memorable visual life of its own—it is a ticket to the best sort of entertainment. All ages. (June)

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