Curling up with her cat at night, Anna hears the stories of the lives he has lived and the things he has seen, stretching back across thousands of years to ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, ancient China, and more.
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The mysterious myth of a cat's nine lives lurks at the heart of this well-crafted picture book by first-timers Butler and Smith. A feline shadow lingers on the elegant endpapers, hinting at the creature's elusive nature. When Anna lets a stray in her window one night, he announces, "I am a cat with stories to tell"; he then proceeds to introduce his nine lives in successive spreads. From ancient Egypt, where cats "lie buried beneath the pyramids with the Pharaohs... curled up to sleep for thousands of years" to China's long silk road to wagon trains headed West, the feline touches on events he has witnessed over the centuries. Butler tickles readers with a few choice observations but purposefully evades the details, heightening the cryptic aura of her lead character. The cadence of the economical, smooth prose makes it ideal for reading aloud, and its broad historical strokes may well inspire readers to seek out the finer points of each era. Smith's sumptuous artwork, meanwhile, bewitches with delicate brushwork that holds each whisker daintily in place; the artist plants tantalizing artifacts from each period (an ornate mummy and hieroglyphics in Egypt, a map of the silk route in China), fleshing out the measured prose. Together, author and artist capture the enigmatic essence of that eminently self-contained creature, the cat, in a quietly arresting debut. Ages 3-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Butler's first picture book is a tease: A mystery cat appears outside young Anna's window one snowy night, and it is an old soul. ``I am a cat with stories to tell'' is the mute refrain that radiates from it. As Anna sleeps, the cat communicates its tales to her: ``I will tell you stories of ancient Egypt,'' ``I will tell you stories of the long silk road from China,'' ``I will tell you stories of the cats who watched the rise of great cathedrals,'' ``and chased along the corridors of court. Painted, chiselled, carved and drawn, still they purr silently.'' Silent is rightamong the nine fabulous lives hinted at, no elaborations are forthcoming. Butler provides only the barest snippets of connection, leaving readers curious and unsatisfied. Smith's evocative artwork makes a sumptuous first impression, but carries its own set of problems, not the least of which is a blond-haired girl in Native American dress just outside a settlement of tepees in the Plains Indian style; the landscape includes desert cliffs and cacti. The use of the cat collapses history, making time an almost tangible concept, but the expressive notion hovers, disappointingly incomplete. (Picture book. 3-8) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Viking Juvenile, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. George W. Smith (illustrator). book. Bookseller Inventory # M067087177X