cover image Noah's Cats and the Devil's Fire

Noah's Cats and the Devil's Fire

Arielle North Olson. Orchard Books (NY), $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05984-5

In Romanian folklore, the Devil (disguised as a mouse) attempts to wreak havoc aboard Noah's ark. This retelling produces some thrills of terror as the Devil-mouse plots and scampers, yet Moser's illustrations are a bit disappointing. Though boldly larger-than-life and filled with energy, the dark and murky images are often difficult to distinguish. Olson's text, while forthrightly presented, evinces a frivolous air. The tale of Noah's victory over the Devil--with a little feline assistance--is dotted throughout with hypotheticals (``And what did Noah's cats do then?''; ``Just think how the Devil felt'') that render it coy and Mother Goose-ish. Yet this jaunty tone heightens the distinctions between the devil's ``playfulness'' and his desire for destruction. This twist on the familiar story of Noah may well provoke discussions on the nature of the devil--to say nothing of a healthy fear of black cats. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)