cover image Zoom at Sea

Zoom at Sea

Tim Wynne-Jones. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021448-7

This fanciful nautical adventure stars a winsome cat named Zoom who stays indoors paddling in the sink or sailing in the bathtub all night ``when other self-respecting cats are out mousing and howling at the moon.'' One day Zoom finds in his Uncle Roy's diary a map of ``the sea and how to get there,'' which leads him to the house of the enigmatic Maria. This woman turns wheels, cranks cranks and opens ``rows upon rows of tiny doors,'' letting in the ocean until Zoom cannot ``even see the walls of this giant room, only the sun coming up like gold, and silver fish dancing on the waves.'' Although Zoom doesn't reach his Uncle's ship as he plans, Maria tells him that he can come back, and the reader is assured that ``he did. / But that's another tale.'' Beddows's intricately detailed black-and-white drawings convey just the right sense of mystery as the world created by both author and illustrator seems to hover tantalizingly between reality and fantasy, and the plucky hero has an adventure any child would envy. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)