cover image Cat Mountain

Cat Mountain

Arthur A. Levine, Francoise Richard. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22608-3

In this Japanese variation on the familiar good servant/wicked master theme, kindhearted Sho leaves the house of her cruel mistress (a woman with a face ``as sour as spoiled milk'') to search for her beloved missing cat, Secret. After a series of predictable hardships she arrives at the mysterious Cat Mountain, where she is reunited with Secret, now transformed into a cat-faced girl. When Sho returns with a magic bag filled with gold, her jealous mistress decides to make her own journey to Cat Mountain, only to be eaten by the cats after scorning their hospitality. The text, adapted from Richard's original French by Arthur A. Levine, moves along smoothly but offers few surprises. More intriguing are Buguet's illustrations, an unexpected combination of traditional Japanese painting and contemporary collages of textured papers. Delicately detailed cutouts of people and cats are set against backdrops of bold color, while a slightly oversize vertical format heightens the impact. Buguet's arresting images reflect the varying moods of the story and take it beyond the realm of a simple retelling. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)