cover image Mrs. Mary Malarky's Seven Cats

Mrs. Mary Malarky's Seven Cats

Judy Hindley. Orchard Books (NY), $0 (26pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05822-0

Mrs. Malarky is a babysitter with a difference, a middle-aged Scheherazade whose tales of her seven cats fascinate her young charge. As the dough-faced lady unfolds each animal's case history, the boy indulges in colorful fantasies, creating characters to go with their names and backgrounds. In his mind, cats of every description loll about, drinking and eating from individual plates as Mrs. Malarky toils endlessly at the dishpan in an attempt to keep up. Teasdale's spontaneous, distinctive watercolor depictions of this diverse menagerie include Moses, who came in a basket and still chews on an old garden glove for security; lovely Petal, who was left behind when her family moved away; and a proud jungle cat named Sheba. Hindley's clever narrative provides a surprise ending just when Mrs. Malarky is down to her last cat. Like the boy in the story, readers cannot fail to be drawn into this endlessly entertaining procession of fabulous felines. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)