cover image Caramba


Marie-Louise Gay, . . Groundwood/ Anansi, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-88899-667-1

What if it were perfectly normal for cats to fly—what if they could actually "leap off the cliffs and soar over the ocean... swoop and glide and skim the waves"? Then how would it feel to be the only cat who couldn't fly? That's the leap of faith Gay (the Stella series) asks readers to make, as she delivers her time-proven message: it's okay to be different. The eponymous, non-flying hero is a charmingly self-deprecating cutie. Poor Caramba tries to fly like other cats, and just as vainly tries to cover up his failures ("I'm looking for caterpillars," he tells his best friend, a pig named Portia, when she finds him lying face down on the ground). Then one day Caramba's cousins grab Caramba by the paws and bear him aloft, enabling him to "see forever." But it takes an accidental dunking for Caramba to discover his uniqueness (he can swim). The tale may seem overlong to make its point, but youngsters will likely be willing to go along for the ride because of Gay's dreamy, gossamer watercolors, which are beguiling from beginning to end. Her flying cats are not endowed with wings; rather, they fly simply by virtue of stretching out their arms in a kind of airborne ecstasy, their sinuous tails trailing behind them as they float above the white-capped, bottle-green sea. Ages 2-5. (Sept.)