cover image Papa Piccolo

Papa Piccolo

Carol Talley. MarshMedia, $17.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-1-55942-028-0

Piccolo is a tough, self-assured tomcat who prowls the canals of Venice, scavenging ``a bit of sardine or a scrap of cheese.'' His independent lifestyle is disrupted, however, the day two abandoned kittens decide to tag along after him. Piccolo at first tries to foist the mischievous creatures off on a neighborhood female cat, but he eventually comes to relish his role as surrogate father. Though Talley's frequently playful text conveys the worthwhile message that men can be nurturing, too, her story may strike some readers as tepid. Maeno's watercolors pleasantly detail life on the canals, with their gondolas, shimmering water and august stone buildings. The use of the Venetian setting to convey to youngsters an exotic, foreign flavor is a notable choice. But her depictions of the cats themselves, often shown in close-ups, appear somewhat flat and cartoony. Ages 5-9. (July)