cover image Mrs. Katz and Tush

Mrs. Katz and Tush

Patricia Polacco. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08122-0

An elderly widow and a scrawny, abandoned kitten provide each other with love and comfort in this gentle picture book. Lonely after her husband's death, Mrs. Katz appreciates the frequent visits from her young neighbor Larnel and his mother. Things begin to look particularly bright when the boy offers the runt of a litter of kittens to Mrs. Katz. Larnel helps the old woman care for her new tail-less pet--``Tush''--and in return Mrs. Katz shares freshly baked kugel and stories of her Polish homeland and her Jewish heritage. Tackling some of the same themes as in her earlier Chicken Sunday , Polacco again offers prose rich with images of the struggles and triumphs of her immigrant ancestors; Mrs. Katz's experiences are nicely paralleled by Larnel's knowledge of his own African American family's difficulties. Unfortunately, passages in the latter part of the book that explain the Passover holiday seem tacked on and a bit heavy in their message. Polacco's vibrant pencil and wash illustrations evoke the ethnic flavor and human warmth that are central to the story. The overall effect is a vivid portrait of characters who are hopeful, proud and compassionate. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)