William and the Missing Masterpiece

Helen Hancocks. Candlewick/Templar, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7596-7
Hancocks recombines some of the ingredients that made her debut, Penguin in Peril, a success: an animal hero, a casually witty narrative voice, and her own faux-primitive paintings. This time, the story features William, “international cat of mystery,” and the missing masterpiece is the Mona Cheesa (in front of whose famous subject Hancocks piles blocks of gourmet cheese). While the story’s course is predictable—clues include a mouse-size hole below the painting—the focus is really on the glamor of Paris. Audiences are assumed to have a working knowledge of gastronomy as William gets invited to the Homage to Fromage Annual Art Gala by his friends Henri Roquefort and Fifi Le Brie. In the best sequence, William spots a “shady figure” and gives suspenseful chase. But he soon gives up to attend a reception, where a new painting catches his eye: “Something about it seemed very familiar...” (even the youngest readers will see that it’s the Mona Lisa... er, Cheesa with glasses and a moustache). Francophiles and budding sleuths will be charmed. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/16/2015
Release date: 04/28/2015
Genre: Children's
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