cover image A Traveling Cat

A Traveling Cat

George Ella Lyon, George Ella Lyon. Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30102-9

Lyon's (A Sign) gracefully folksy prose is matched with Johnson's (The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down) nostalgic depictions to somber effect in this touching tale of a stray cat who moves in and out of a small-town family's life. ""Boulevard was a traveling cat. We named her after the road,"" begins the narrator, the girl who finds the cat at the drive-in movie. The mostly double-page pencil drawings are shaded to look dusty and a little faded, reinforcing the down-home, period setting. Johnson provides some deeply brooding illustrations. For example, when spring floods prompt the local animals, including Boulevard, to flee to ""high ground somewhere in the hills,"" a drawing of a spindly bridge over swollen water reveals the grief-stricken narrator standing alone near a cluster of worried neighbors: ""Only [the Macs' dog] came back."" The girl has one of Boulevard's kittens to console her, and the work ends on a poignant, bravely upbeat tone: Mom ventures that Boulevard might have found another family, and ""If she did, I'd like to tell them, `Don't expect to keep her. She's a traveling cat.'"" The projection of sympathy may console readers whose own pets have also turned out to be the traveling type. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)