cover image Da Vinci’s Cat

Da Vinci’s Cat

Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Greenwillow, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-301525-8

As a political hostage of Pope Julius II, 11-year-old Federico Gonzaga is witness to the historic rivalry between artists Raphael and Michelangelo as the latter works on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Federico’s pampered life is opulent but lonely, until he discovers a cat in an enigmatic closet designed by Leonardo da Vinci. The cat’s mysterious movements link him to only child Bee, an intrepid 21st-century Brooklynite who discovers a drawing of herself—purportedly by Raphael—in the home of elderly neighbor Miss Bother, who’s struggling to pay her bills. Using the wardrobe to travel to 16th-century Rome, Bee seeks a variation on the sketch’s creation, this time with a signature, to ensure that its sale in the present day can provide for Miss Bother. Though the plot holds few surprises, Murdock (The Book of Boy) crafts an arresting blend of speculative time travel and art mystery with a sumptuously imagined Renaissance Italy setting filled with evocative sensory details. The unlikely pairing of cosseted Federico and bold Bee, both cued as white, provides comedic moments, and historical figures, such as the volatile Michelangelo and the suave Raphael, are vividly rendered. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary. (May) [/em]