Mattoo, Let’s Play!
Luxbacher (the Starting Art series) offers a friendly story about a rambunctious girl who can’t understand why her fuzzy black cat, Mattoo, isn’t interested in playing with her. Children will quickly pick up on the fact that the girl’s style of play is the problem (Luxbacher shows her clanging pans and cymbals, jumping on the bed, and taking a noisy imaginary “Space Flight to Pluto,” while Mattoo hides beneath a spotted blanket or inside a football helmet). Incidentally, it’s through even more imaginative play with her friend Clemente—in which the duo pretend to explore a jungle—that the girl finally realizes how cats like to play. (They carefully approach Mattoo, who appears as “the fiercest, most wild, most wonderful creature of all—the mysterious spotted king of the jungle!”) Luxbacher works mainly in acrylic ink, her speckled black palette accentuated by colorful collaged bits. The fantasy scenes are rendered in especially rich detail (the jungle, dense with vegetation and exotic animals, has an almost cubist feel), underlining the power of the imagination. A nondidactic approach to playing nicely with animals. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)