cover image Tales of Grandpa Cat

Tales of Grandpa Cat

Lee Wardlaw. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1511-0

Antic illustrations by New Yorker cover artist Searle accentuate the hilarity in Wardlaw's (Seventh Grade Weirdo) brisk cat-tale. It's Sunday, time for kittens Christopher, Ellen and Fergie to visit their grandparents at Catnip Acres, a retirement community. At first, the three want to while away the hours watching television. But as Grandpa points out some of his neighbors and describes their adventures of yesteryear, he wins over the moody youngsters. He spins yarns of Billy the Kitten, ``the fastest paw in the West,'' and outlaw Calico Jane; millionaire Diamond Jim Kitty; the Great Tabby Houdini (sardonic kitten Christopher, the last to warm to the storytelling, stubbornly wonders, ``Could she pull a TV out of [her hat]?''); and daredevil pilot Kitty Hawk-who turns out to be none other than Grandma Cat herself. Wardlaw has an instinct for the catchy hook, and the dialogue is especially deft. Searle's pen-and-ink drawings, brightened with watercolors, radiate enthusiasm: the lively Grandpa sports a multicolored top hat, spats and a lavender coat with tails (including his own); gesturing grandly with his cane (which he carries more for dapper effect than for balance) he acts as ringmaster to the spirited proceedings. All ages. (Sept.)