cover image The Painter

The Painter

Peter Catalanotto. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09465-5

Childlike narration and diffused, impressionistic watercolors seamlessly stitch together a heartwarming celebration of family love. As in Fred Marcellino's Puss in Boots, the main characters appear in an arresting joint portrait on the front cover of the book, with the title and credits relegated to the back. The text, like a quiet voice-over in a film, begins before the title page: ``My daddy's a painter,'' says the narrator. Father and daughter meet mostly at mealtimes-reading the comics, cooking, doing magic tricks-while the mother looks on and comments. ``We're very good dancers,'' the girl announces as the father strikes a flamboyant pose, gripping a rose in his teeth. ""`Silly,' says Mommy. `Funny,' says me.'' Because she patiently gives her father time to work, the girl is rewarded after dinner with admittance to his studio, where she paints a cheerful family portrait that is reproduced at the end of the story. In realistically acknowledging that children frequently desire more attention than their parents can give them, Catalanotto adds credibility to the uplifting resolution. His book subtly attests to the joy inherent in the creation of both life and art. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)