cover image Blue Ethel

Blue Ethel

Jennifer Black Reinhardt. FSG/Ferguson, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30382-2

Can literal blues lead to metaphorical ones? For an old, fat cat named Ethel, the answer is yes. Ethel sticks to her routine each day, which includes rolling around on a particular square of sidewalk. She doesn’t notice that the square is covered in blue chalk one day; her white fur turns bright blue, other cats whisper, and she retreats indoors, sad and embarrassed. After Ethel sees that her friend Fluffy is now pink, she has a change of heart—Reinhardt (Yaks Yak) gracefully reminds readers of the rewards of being open to new experiences. As befits a story with a central focus on color, Reinhardt’s palette is rich and lush; a field dotted with poppylike flowers takes on a tie-dyed quality as watery bursts of red bleed into grassy greens and yellows. Jittery ink lines bring Ethel’s world to life: when she ventures outdoors “to survey the land,” Reinhardt shows her perched on the porch, overlooking a yard dotted with plastic flamingoes and mushrooms, elaborate topiaries, and one very dead houseplant. It’s hard not to wonder what the story is with Ethel’s unseen caretakers. Ages 4–6. [em]Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt and Zacker Literary. (May) [/em]