TOM FINGER

Gillian McClure, Author, Gillian McClure, Illustrator
Gillian McClure, Author, Gillian McClure, Illustrator . Bloomsbury $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58234-782-0
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-7475-5277-2
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-7475-5596-4
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This odd, initially intriguing fantasy about a mysterious cat contains the evocative and repetitive language of fairy tales. Unfortunately, the sometimes cloying dialogue and mystifying plot may puzzle rather than satisfy readers. After the death of her cat, "Every day Queenie called her Tabby, sadly she called her dear old Tabby." In response, a huge cat named Tom Finger, walking upright, appears at her door with a gift (a lace handkerchief one day, a satin soap bag the next, etc.) as Queenie asks unanswered questions (e.g., "Young Tabby Tom Finger, where do you come from and where do you go?"). Queenie ignores her brother Ben's warning that Tom Finger must be in league with a witch and eventually she sets out to find the cat's home. Queenie never sees her, but the witch appears to Ben and to readers in delicate watercolors, knitting frosty webs in the sky and materializing in a mass of bubbles. Cheery and non-menacing, she guides Queenie (or does she?) to a cottage where she meets a grieving blind woman who gives her "a kitten, a dear little kitty, just like [her] tabby." Despite McClure's (Selkie) deft illustrations, neither text nor pictures amplify the mysteries that might resolve the plot. Who is the witch, and how is Tom Finger related to her? While the old-fashioned language and spirited characters kindle interest, the book seems to promise more than it ultimately delivers. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

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