cover image The Cataract of Lodore

The Cataract of Lodore

Robert Southey. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1945-2

Southey's 19th-century poem describing the nature of his children's favorite waterfall splashes along swimmingly in this picture book rendition. Water and lily pads have already begun spilling down the staircase as Southey settles into his armchair to recite his rhyme. And seemingly unbeknownst to the concentrating poet, he, the three youngsters and the family dog sail downstream through perilous swells and around treacherous bends before landing safely in their backyard. Catrow's ink-and-watercolor illustrations blend the precise amounts of humor, adventure and danger to match the poem's rushing pace. The wide-eyed children and the dog with his hair standing on end continuously amuse with their various postures as they follow the water's ``pouring and roaring and waving and raving and tossing and crossing'' course. With rusticity rapidly giving way to aquatic antics, this energetic interpretation is somewhat more slapsticky than Mordicai Gerstein's larky setting of the poem (Children's Forecasts, Nov. 8, 1991). Both versions splendidly render this period work accessible to contemporary readers. Ages 6-8. (May)