Gretchen Woelfle, , illus. by Nicola Bayley. . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1347-1

Woelfle (The Wind at Work: An Activity Guide to Windmills) transforms a historical account of the 15th-century St. Elizabeth's Day flood in Holland into an engaging story in terms that children will understand; the facts never intrude upon the seamless narrative. Katje the cat belongs to Niko the miller, but when he marries and Anneke is born, the feline is no longer the center of the household. Even though Katje moves into the windmill, she loves playing with Anneke and rocking her cradle. When the town's dike breaks and Anneke and the cat are swept into dangerous floodwaters, Katje keeps the baby's cradle level until they are rescued. The epilogue describes the Kinderdijk (Children's Dike) built to honor the baby saved by a cat. Like the text, Bayley's (The Necessary Cat) richly detailed artwork not only chronicles the events, but also captures the cat's uncannily human emotions. The panel illustrations, like miniature Dutch paintings, glow with a patina of amber light and parallel the excitement of the text; early scenes show the serene town and domestic life while later paintings chronicle the rising floodwaters, culminating in a wordless spread of cat and baby bobbing precariously in the cradle. Delft tiles in traditional patterns as well as those incorporating images from the story decorate each page. Both art and text infuse this little-known piece of history with warmth and imagination. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)