cover image The Tapestry Cats

The Tapestry Cats

Ann Turnbull. Little Brown and Company, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-316-85626-3

One need not be ailurophilic to fancy this sprightly collaboration, which tells of a princess whose mother always decides what is best. The girl's resultant dull life, however, is magically enriched by the coming to life of two cats from the castle's beautiful tapestries. Turnbull has a sure, deft hand with description--one cat is ``as warm as honey and as heavy as sleep,'' the other ``as secret as moonlight and as quick as thought''--as well as a satisfying streak of mischief. Using cut paper, Morley creates unique visuals that are at once lush and playful, and that capture with energy and verve the characters' essential traits, from the liveliness of the princess to the bright-eyed inquisitiveness of her cats. The shape of the figures (tiny heads on large bodies, resembling old-fashioned clothespin dolls) and the fetchingly scattershot layout lend the proceedings a slightly surreal, highly stylized look. As if all this weren't enough, the tale ends with a low-key but rewarding moral: the queen begins to focus on what is best for the cats (salmon with fennel), and the princess learns to speak up for herself. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)