cover image My Nine Lives by Clio

My Nine Lives by Clio

Marjorie Priceman. Atheneum Books, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81135-7

Clio (aka Marjorie Priceman) purports to be a cat; this witty ""journal"" documents her accomplishments and many adventures in nine far-flung lives. Launching her reminiscences in Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C., Clio subsequently touches down in such exotic settings as ancient China and Leif Eriksson's sailing ship. She claims credit for naming the constellations and helping to invent the clock, the alphabet, the fork and the parachute--not to mention inspiring the Mona Lisa's smile. The wide-ranging diary entries give Priceman plenty of varied outlets for her punchy descriptions: of Chinese architecture, Clio observes that the house ""wears a hat just like the people do""; jazz music in 1913 New Orleans has ""that ultimate, sky-high, shimmy, shimmy, toe-tickling sound."" Visually, the sepia-toned pages mimic well-seasoned parchment, with hand-lettered text scrawled as if by little paws. Cleverest of all are the visual nods to different eras--the free-flowing draftsmanship is unmistakably Priceman's, but she varies the trappings. The Mesopotamia sequence, for example, begins with hieratic panel art; the first picture of 1300 England incorporates the colors of stained glass and the compositional style of an illuminated manuscript. An afterword drolly ""verifies"" the journal's authenticity with the findings of a host of ""experts,"" thus teaching readers some quick history lessons. This beguiling spoof is the cat's meow. All ages. (Oct.)