Trupp: A Fuzzhead Tale

Janell Cannon, Author Harcourt Children's Books $16 (48p) ISBN 978-0-15-200130-8

Fans of Stellaluna, Cannon's exceptional debut book, will approach her second with high expectations-and those will be met. Carefully crafted prose and stunning art shape a story that delicately spans the fictional and real, at the same time delivering a message worthy of reflection. Curious about what lies beyond his Family Cave, Trupp, a cat-like creature with snow-white fur and ice-blue eyes, walks for days until he approaches ""people-dwellings."" The peace-loving Fuzzhead borrows clothing from a scarecrow so humans won't notice his odd appearance and, accompanied by a raven, heads for a city. No one on the bustling streets pays any attention to Trupp until he meets a homeless woman named Bernice, who removes a piece of broken glass from his foot and takes him to a safer part of town. Equally affecting as her text, Cannon's poignantly detailed acrylic and pencil art underscores the contrasts between Trupp's primitive homeland and the gritty, graffiti-scarred city; and between his ethereal presence and the eccentric, gaudy appearance of Bernice, who keeps half a dozen toothbrushes tucked into her woolen cap. As the new friends settle down to sleep in the park, Bernice's wise words expose the heart of the story: ""Funny, isn't it? I wear all this bright stuff to keep from feeling invisible. When people stare at me, it helps me know I'm here. But Trupp puts on clothes so he will disappear."" Cannon says so much so simply. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)