cover image Mrs. Merriwether's Musical Cat

Mrs. Merriwether's Musical Cat

Carol Purdy. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22543-7

Purdy (Least of All) and Mathers (Sophie and Lou; Victor and Christabel) hit some high notes in this picture book about a stray cat's surprising effect on a piano teacher and her pupils. Mrs. Merriwether leads an ``ordinary'' life on Peach Tree Lane, ``an ordinary street in an ordinary town.'' Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday, when she gives piano lessons to three children from the neighborhood. Unfortunately Mrs. Merriwether's students don't seem to be improving, tending to make more noise than music. But a friendly white feline whose tail swishes like a metronome changes everything. The young pianists play like prodigies, Mrs. Merriwether spruces up her house and buys a ``wild'' red dress, and Peach Tree Lane is ordinary no longer. But when the cat disappears, things threaten to revert to type. Purdy's well-paced text makes the most of a slight premise and Mathers's expressive paintings further energize the proceedings with their abundance of understated humorous details and their rich palette. Music aficionados and cat lovers especially will find much to like here, but just about everyone will want to join in the ivory-tickling fun. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)