cover image THE BROKEN CAT


Lynne Rae Perkins, . . HarperCollins/ Greenwillow, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029263-8

In this quirky, effective slice-of-life memoir, Perkins (Home Lovely) shows a family reassuring a child by recalling a previous crisis that turned out all right. Andy's cat, Frank, hasn't moved or eaten since Andy let him out after breakfast, the previous morning. Andy sits with his family in the veterinarian's waiting room and a question reveals his concern about his pet: "Mom,... can you tell me about that time... you fell and broke your arm?" His mother, grandmother and aunt remember the accident, interrupting and adding forgotten details. Perkins's pen, ink and watercolor figures wear '60s plaid dresses and cat's-eye glasses; they play out the action in a series of vignettes. Comic-book highlights such as thought balloons and alternating viewpoints of the same scene counter Andy's sober concern for his cat and the pain of his mother's broken arm. After they conclude their reminiscence, the vet calls for Frank, dresses his head wound and sends him home. "Did your arm hurt the whole time it was broken?" Andy asks. A split-scene sequence then follows Andy's mother (in girlhood) and Frank healing together. "No," she reassures him, "Pretty soon... I didn't think about it at all." Her youthful counterpart stands on her head as Frank, in a corresponding panel, sniffs gently at Andy's hand. Like Andy, young readers may well return to this tale when they need reassurance. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)