cover image The Cat, the Crow, and the Banyan Tree

The Cat, the Crow, and the Banyan Tree

Penelope Lively. Candlewick Press (MA), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-325-4

In this sophisticated picture book debut by novelist Lively, a cat and a crow pass the time by telling stories beneath the capacious banyan tree. Not just any stories, these tales come alive as they are unfolded. The cat, who is ``thin and quick,'' spins an ``elegant and entertaining'' adventure that transports her and the crow to the mountains of the moon ``to find the end of the story.'' In contrast, the crow, ``fat and handsome,'' tells a ``fast and furious'' tale full of chase and adventure, excitement and fear, wherein he and the cat sing for their lives in a ghost tunnel. Lively's narrative percolates with rhythm, inviting poetically-minded young readers to immerse themselves in the text and, perhaps, to look at storytelling in a fresh light. The well-matched artwork captures the essence of both tales and emphasizes the mysteries of the various settings. Milne combines a man-in-the-moon whimsicality with an eeriness that emphasizes both the fun and the spellbinding power of the imagination. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)