cover image Barn Cat

Barn Cat

Mary Azarian, Carol P. Saul. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-76113-0

Azarian's exceedingly handsome woodcuts tether Saul's lyrical counting book to a pastoral setting, where a well-fed tabby cat serenely ignores the barnyard activity that bustles around her. One grasshopper, two crickets, three butterflies and so on, up to 10 sparrows, parade past the disinterested puss, to the recurring refrain of ""Barn cat at the red barn door,/ Barn cat, what are you looking for?"" At last, the goal of her patient vigil is revealed: the cat's mistress appears, to pour her a saucer of milk. Saul's (Someplace Else) rhyming text is simplicity itself (""Four gray swallows in the air?/ Barn cat looks but doesn't care./ On curving wings they dive and chase./ They wheel and swoop. Away they race!""), and her measured cadences are attuned to a read-aloud audience. An expressive blend of graceful lines and precise hand-coloring enhances Azarian's (A Symphony for the Sheep) sturdy woodcuts, which lend a timeless quality to the pages of this most agreeable picture book. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)