cover image The Amber Cat

The Amber Cat

Hilary McKay. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $15 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81360-3

Gracefully gliding between present and past, McKay adds just the right measure of magic to this resonant follow-up to Dog Friday. As her 11-year-old son, Robin, and his best friend suffer through chicken pox, Mrs. Brogan entertains them and their constantly visiting neighbor, the enticingly eccentric Sun Dance Robinson, with memories of her 11th summer, spent in the same Yorkshire coastal home where she and Robin now reside. That summer, two brothers, the mischievous Nick and kindhearted Charley, come to stay with 11-year-old Kathy (the young Mrs. Brogan) and her family, and the three spend their days roaming the beach. There they encounter the mysterious Harriet, shabbily dressed but strikingly beautiful. The enchanting girl shares much with the three friends--a special cave, a pony she ""borrowed,"" 10 gold coins she allegedly found as well as her cherished companionship. And, while curiously elusive, Harriet touches them all, deeply and lastingly. Listening to his mother's reminiscences, Robin perceptively observes that the players are ""All linked together."" He is right: McKay's story of childhood's timeless treasures carves a seamless circle connecting one generation to the next. Fans will cross their fingers that this fine writer books a return trip to this beguiling seaside setting. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)