Hooray for Snail!) inventively explores the lengths to which a child will go to reclaim a favorite toy. Catilda's parents think their kitten daughter"/>

CATILDA

John Stadler, Author, John Stadler, Illustrator . Atheneum/Jackson $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-84728-8

Stadler (Hooray for Snail!) inventively explores the lengths to which a child will go to reclaim a favorite toy. Catilda's parents think their kitten daughter is tucked into bed—feeling a bit sad, perhaps, having left her teddy bear, Ollie, behind in the city. They're wrong. "Did you tuck Catilda in?" asks her mother, as a serene scene of an oceanside cottage shows a tiny figure on the stair landing. "Yes. She's in bed, singing," says her father. As the two debate—offstage—whether or not to check on her, Catilda travels over sand and sea to fetch Ollie from the Statute of Liberty's torch. The wide-eyed, nightgowned heroine, reminiscent of Japanese anime, comes alive in flat, incandescent watercolors that lend her a look of calm even in the scariest of circumstances. Full-bleed paintings of calamities alternate with inset close-ups to create an adventure that tantalizingly teeters between fancy and dream. The conversation of Catilda's parents—the book's only text, set within dialogue boxes—serves as a kind of reality counterpoint. "It's awfully quiet up there," says one parent, while a startled Catilda surfs a huge green wave. "But we might wake her," rejoins the other parent on the next page, as the heroine lands on a ship's mast (visible poking through the clouds; the next page reveals the schooner). When she eventually ends up snuggled in bed with her beloved bear, her parents are none the wiser. By keeping the adventure solely from the child's perspective, Stadler conveys the full range of Catilda's emotions and affirms her ingenuity. Ages 2-5. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/18/2002
Release date: 02/01/2003
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