Copycats

Nicola Bayley, Author, Nicola Bayley, Illustrator
Nicola Bayley, Author, Nicola Bayley, Illustrator Candlewick Press (MA) $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-56402-114-4
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Bayley establishes an inverse relationship between size and charm in this jewel-like small-format book, a collection of stories about five felines who daydream about being different creatures. In the first entry, a white cat watches a child paint the parrot outlined in a coloring book, then pretends what it would do ``If I were a parrot instead of a cat''--live in the jungle, fly through the trees, etc. Unusually harmonious watercolors picture the cat in its imagined surroundings (for example, flocking with the aforementioned birds of a feather) and, sometimes, elaborate on the fantasy (``I would be colored so bright'' captions an illustration of the cat decorating its coat with a paintbox much like the child's). Other cats envision lives as elephants, polar bears, crabs and spiders. Text is simple--generally 10 words or less per spread--but evocative (the cat cum crab ``would sleep in a seashell after lunch''), while accomplished use of color and light balances the elaborate elements of Bayley's ( The Mousehole Cat ) compositions. These five copycats manifest a lot of original thinking. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)
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