cover image Cat Up a Tree

Cat Up a Tree

Anne Isaacs. Dutton Books, $15.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45994-1

A series of Romantic odes and witty soliloquies inspired by a climbing cat comprises this sumptuous work by Isaacs (Swamp Angel) and British first-time illustrator Mackey. Lush, full-bleed art depicts a rural community as spring blossoms, while each spread offers a poem in a different voice, each addressing one aspect of a cat's adventure up a tree. A girl gives chase, her father runs after her; the fireman is called for, followed by the ""cat-catcher""; the robin cries out in fear and warning, and the tree groans in complaint. Isaacs's language can be ornate (e.g., one poem, ""Night Rising,"" begins, ""Ancient alchemist, wake! Arise:/ Flood each echoing well with beams""). Elsewhere, she can be straightforward and funny (the fireman confesses, ""I'd rather face flames raging out of control/ Than a cat, who's a fire with four legs and a soul""). Mackey unifies the various poems with gorgeous, dreamlike paintings. Various elements such as people walking dogs or passersby appear on the pages with a fresh, spontaneous wit, while the cat is as lyrical visually as he appears in the text. Cat lovers will go wild for this work, as will poets and dreamers. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)