cover image Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

Charles Perrault. Farrar Straus Giroux, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36160-0

Perrault's tale of the cat who makes his master's fortune has never received a more faithful yet remarkably original treatment. Marcellino ( A Rat's Tale ) breaks convention from the start by relegating the book's title and credits to the back cover. The front cover is stunning: the mysterious feline, wearing a white ruffled collar and plumed red hat, stares out with green eyes as compelling and evocative as the story itself. The artist's luxurious and skillfully designed paintings startle in their complexity and beauty. Light and shadow mingle on tiled floors, through goblets, in courtyards. The simplicity of the cobblestoned streets and the peasant scenes are contrasted with the beribboned finery of the court, where the King--in a pink sash and lacy pantaloons--sits on a gilded throne. Like Cyrano do Bergerac, Marcellino's Puss has genuine panache. Sporting only his famed boots, he waits patiently in dappled sunlight for a stray hare or, with apparent nonchalance, entraps the wide-eyed ogre. Whether he is presenting his kill to the dandified King or is coiled like any ordinary cat on a carpet at the Marquis's banquet, he seems both true feline and fairy-tale creation at the same time. From Arthur's clean, clear translation to Marcellino's opulent illustrations, this version of Perrault's classic story is brilliantly conceived and executed. All ages. (Oct.)