cover image The Catawampus Cat

The Catawampus Cat

Jason Carter Eaton, illus. by Gus Gordon. Crown, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-553-50971-7

Mr. Grouse the grocer is the first to see the catawampus cat wander into town; the cat is gray, prim, and tilted to one side, as if leaning into a strong wind. When the grocer and his wife cock their heads to get a better look—Gordon (I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!) shows them in close-up, his nose red, her apron wrinkled—she finds her wedding ring dangling from a vegetable bin: “I haven’t seen it in twenty years!” The cat spreads sly catawampus enchantment all over town, making people do and see things in new ways, as when a reclusive schoolboy, Bushy Brows Billiam, looks at the blackboard sideways and completes a comically long math equation: “Everyone was happy and slanty and catawampus.” Like a cowboy out of a western, the cat works his magic and moves on. Gordon’s engaging charcoal and wash spreads, enlivened with collage elements, supply the tilted special effects, while Eaton’s (How to Track a Truck) fond portrait of small-town life reminds readers that a slight change in outlook can transform everything. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre. (Mar.)