Cats! Cats! Cats! ) captures the conflicting emotions of losing a cherished pet and then learning to love a new one in this warmly reassuring tale. Young "/>

THE BEST CAT IN THE WORLD

Leslea Newman, Author, Ronald Himler, Illustrator , illus. by Ronald Himler. Eerdmans $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5252-6

Newman (Cats! Cats! Cats! ) captures the conflicting emotions of losing a cherished pet and then learning to love a new one in this warmly reassuring tale. Young Victor, the narrator, mourns the death of Charlie, his old orange cat who had curled up next to him on a special pillow each night. "I cried and cried for two whole days. Mom didn't even make me go to school. We buried Charlie in the backyard and planted a rosebush for him with green leaves and orange flowers." Weeks later, at the gentle urging of his mother and the vet, Victor somewhat guardedly adopts a tortoiseshell kitten named Shelley. Shelley slowly earns her owner's acceptance and love through frisky antics and endearing habits that differentiate her from Charlie. While the text can be lengthy, particularly for the younger set, the story moves swiftly and tenderly. Himler's (I Wonder as I Wander ) soft pencil and watercolor art conveys a myriad of feelings. Soothing and hopeful tones of muted oranges, yellows and greens provide backdrops for the realistic spreads as they showcase the new pet's playfulness (drinking from a faucet, biting shoelaces). Touching in its depiction of the carefully crafted bonds between a boy and his furry companions, this story comes full circle with Victor and Shelley peering out at Charlie's rosebush. A fitting read for any youngster facing the loss of a pet. Ages 3-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
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