cover image The Cat Next Door

The Cat Next Door

Betty Ren Wright. Holiday House, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-0896-2

A girl recalls past summers spent at her grandparents' lakeside cabin--picnicking on the dock, swimming in the lake, riding in the boat. Each year she would anticipate the special, implicit greeting from the Cat Next Door: `` Where've you been all year, you silly girl? '' Grandma always said each idyllic day would ``last forever, because that's how long we're going to remember it.'' This summer, however, will be different--Grandma has died. As she tries to contain her grief, the girl is surprised by a special gift from her feline friend: two new kittens. Owens's winsome pencil drawings, blended with delicate pastels, perfectly capture the nostalgia of this gentle, reassuring story. (When the girl is reminiscing, different perspectives of the same scene overlap dreamily within a single illustration.) In her tale of rebirth, Wright ( The Dollhouse Murders ; A Ghost in the Window ) subtly teaches children to cherish memories and understand that life goes on. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)