cover image The Good Luck Cat

The Good Luck Cat

Joy Harjo. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-232197-0

Native American poet and literary critic Harjo makes her children's book debut with a simple but beautifully executed tale of a ""good luck cat"": ""You pet [her] and good things happen."" Woogie, the cat in question, has need of some luck--as the unnamed girl who narrates explains, Woogie has quickly used up eight of her nine lives, surviving an encounter with a large dog, a tumble in the clothes dryer, a fall from a tree, etc. Then, apparently down to her last life, Woogie disappears. The girl searches everywhere and finally puts a dish of food and some cat toys on the stoop, asking her cat to return. The next morning, Woogie has reappeared, missing half an ear but seemingly content. Harjo combines a childlike voice with a command of detail and imagery (""When I pet her she purrs as if she has a drum near her heart""), and the passing characterization of the narrator as Native American adds interest. Lee's (Amistad Rising) spare, sharply focused, acrylic art provides realistic action views of the risk-taking Woogie, showing familiarity with the way cats move. Given its fresh narrative voice and winning animal heroine, this is likely to have a long shelf life--perhaps even nine. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)