cover image The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

Edward Lear. Victor Gollancz, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-575-04709-9

This version of Lear's popular poem is distinguished by its very Victorian but unfussy illustrations, which focus not only on the familiar lovestruck pair, but on their very model of a Grand Tour. After festively boarding a luxurious ``pea-green'' boat decorated with gilded carvings, the couple--together with assorted animal families--ride gondolas, sail past the Statue of Liberty and land on a tropical island where passengers and crew celebrate their nuptials. In Todd's masterful renditions, these elegant, genteel settings and costumes are almost photographic in their clarity. Models of propriety abound: sumptuous teas are served, and guests gather for a shipboard musicale where the owl ``sang to a small guitar.'' The dapper creature is resplendent in a plaid deerstalker cap and (later) in tails with blue spats, while his perfectly beguiling mate dazzles with her lace bustles and parasols. Detailed without being cluttered, the illustrations are inventive without stretching the text too far in this perfectly satisfying variation on an old favorite. All ages. (June)