cover image A Night on the Tiles

A Night on the Tiles

Bruce Ingman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-395-93655-9

Lionel, the savvy marmalade cat who concocted a full day's amusement for himself in Ingman's When Martha's Away, demonstrates what stimulating activities fill his nights in this largely well-worn but nonetheless charming sequel, also in an oversize format. Lionel being Lionel, he doesn't chase mice or pursue the usual cat activities. ""How do you think cats get to be so clever?"" he asks, addressing Martha, who is shown snugly asleep as he slips out the door. He goes to school, of course, taking courses at the Cat Academy (""CA"") on fashion design, woodworking and mechanics, the last so that he can learn how to care for his scooter. A dotty cast of characters (introduced, as in Ingman's Lost Property, in cameo portraits on the endpapers) includes the cats Jean-Pierre, a hairdresser, and the lovely Audrey (whose name always appears in elegant script). The story is familiar and its idiosyncrasies seem forced at times--but the art gives it another life. Ingman's characteristic style--exuberant use of wonderfully balanced color fields and quick-flowing, quirkily expressive line drawings--has a celebratory, happy energy. The visual details he slips in, from the spider dangling above Martha's sleeping head to the tipped-in Audrey Hepburn movie stills and the pink poodle at the dog track, cannot fail to amuse. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)