cover image Pierre in Love

Pierre in Love

Sara Pennypacker, , illus. by Petra Mathers. . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-51740-9

In this très romantique tale, whose misty coastal setting suggests Maine or Nova Scotia, fisherman-rat Pierre longs to express his hidden feelings to Catherine, a slim gray rabbit. Pierre sees her painting pictures and teaching ballet in her studio as he pilots his boat to and from their seaside village. "Pierre sighed tragically.... Catherine was exquisite, an angel of grace and beauty, and he was only an ordinary fisherman." Each night, Pierre exchanges his orange slicker and jeans for a red shirt and white trousers: "He did not look a bit like the fisherman he had been just an hour ago!" He steals to Catherine's house to declare his love, but always loses his nerve and leaves her a token of affection (a perfect pink shell, a wreath of seagrass). In Shakespearean fashion, Catherine discovers her spiffy admirer but (at first) fails to recognize him as the rugged fisherman of her dreams. With warmth and humor, Pennypacker (Clementine ) charts an excessive crush: "Sunrises, sunsets, empty potato chip bags" remind Pierre of his beloved. Mathers (Lottie's New Beach Towel ) paints in a naïve style that captures the ordinariness of the two who share a grand passion. Her foggy palette of teal, moss and charcoal suits the fishing village, especially in a quaint, wordless spread of Pierre docking his boat and Catherine painting at her window. This book's ideal audience is likely to be Pierre's age. Yet Pennypacker and Mathers compose a sweet but not treacly Valentine. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)