Stephane Barroux, Author . Viking $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-05916-4

The title escapades resemble Walter Mitty–type flights of fancy, fueled by Mr. Katapat's passion for library going and reading: "books are his passport to adventure! Which book will he choose today?" Barroux's (Where's Mary's Hat? ) watercolor-and-ink spreads answer this question with an austere editorial style that may remind some grownups of Folon 's magazine covers. Lost in books, Mr. Katapat coolly traverses space and time, chumming it up with a former president ("Nice thinking cap, Mr. Lincoln") and besting pirates ("Avast, ye hearties!"). Still, Mr. Katapat is not fully consoled by his books. Living in a grey, urban world, he cuts an idiosyncratic figure, dressed in an outré orange tunic and striped conical hat. "If only his real life were as exciting," reads the text, as the melancholy hero gazes out his apartment window. Readers, however, will have noted the occasional appearance of a female character who seems to share Mr. Katapat's taste in headgear. The two finally meet when, oblivious to the world as they read while riding unicycles, they crash into each other. The "real life adventure" of love, marriage and mutual book-reading wraps up the story (Barroux shows the couple snuggling 'neath a silvery moon). But the message and mushy stuff seem aimed more at adults' sense of wistfulness rather than youngsters' more astringent sensibilities. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
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