Dick King-Smith, , illus. by Bob Graham. . Candlewick, $14.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2260-2

King-Smith (Lady Lollipop) serves up an engaging, light-as-meringue tale of a kitten who goes to live with a kindly witch. "I ought to have a black cat, but it'll be a nice change to have a white one," muses the pointy-hatted, broom-riding Bella Donna, who names her little charge Aristotle and brings him to her thatched cottage in the wood. The curious cat promptly climbs up on the roof and tumbles down the chimney, losing the first of his nine lives. The countdown continues as he traps himself in a milk pitcher, falls from a tree and has run-ins with a train, a neighbor's dog, etc. Readers will intuit, from the capacious, old-fashioned tone of the storytelling, that Aristotle will somehow reach contented old age; the charms here have little to do with suspense and everything to do with the confident prose ("When Aristotle was a kitten, he did not know that cats have nine lives. His mother knew, of course. But I'm not going to tell him, she thought. He's already a rascal... and if he knows that he has nine lives to play with, he'll take all sorts of risks"). Graham (Max; Benny) contributes puckish ink-and-watercolor illustrations in a muted palette; these rhythmically break up the text and add to the appeal created by the trim size, which is just slightly wider than a standard novel or chapter book. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)