cover image The Winged Cat: A Tale of Ancient Egypt

The Winged Cat: A Tale of Ancient Egypt

Deborah Nourse Lattimore. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023635-9

Lattimore ( The Flame of Peace ; The Sailor Who Captured the Sea ) turns here to Egyptian mythology, relating a servant girl's journey to the Netherworld to be judged against the scales of Truth. Merit is accompanied by Pharaoh's untrustworthy priest and by her cat's soul, which reminds her to read spells that ultimately save her. Highly stylized, richly colored and intricately detailed, Lattimore's paintings are a virtual primer on the costumes, animals, symbols and lore of ancient Egypt, as well as stunning pieces of art--but they are not always successful storytelling vehicles. Sometimes frames are used to show events in sequence; at other times, they separate simultaneous occurrences in different spots, and in one case they divide what seems to be a single scene. On some pages the generally intriguing multiplicity of images becomes taxing instead, the pictures difficult to read and progressions hard to follow--in a few cases the art is somewhat at odds with the related text. The effect of these inconsistencies is intensified by the text's confusing presentation of certain plot elements, especially those concerning how the travelers are to obtain and read the all-important spells. Ages 7-10. (May)