cover image A Cat of a Different Color

A Cat of a Different Color

Steven Bauer. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32710-7

Strong prose can't compensate for a less-than-enthralling plot in Bauer's (Satyrday) tepid offering, which takes place in an indeterminate past. The happy citizens of Felicity-by-the-Lake are taken in by flattering newcomer Jeremiah Hoytie and elect him mayor over the far more worthy local candidate. But under his smooth exterior, Hoytie is greedy, selfish and mean, just like his wife. The proclamations the two devise to enrich themselves at the expense of the villagers (""From this day forward, anything which does not belong to you belongs to Prucilla and Jeremiah Hoytie"") would be laughable--except for the presence of their dim-witted giant of a son, who happily serves as enforcer. Luckily, the Hoyties' spunky ward, Daria, and a special cat named Ulwazzer manage to convince the complacent townsfolk to shake off the yoke of the Hoyties and send them packing. There is little tension, less suspense and nary a doubt that Daria's story, like the books she most enjoys reading, will have a happy ending. Most of the pleasure comes from laughing at the Hoyties, who, in both the text and Raglin's (Deputy Dan and the Bank Robbers) comic line drawings, are ridiculous enough to elicit a few chuckles, if no real laughs. Ages 8-up. (June)