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CAT UP A TREE by Anne Isaacs


by Anne Isaacs & illustrated by Stephen Mackey

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-45994-4
Publisher: Dutton

In a chronicle of the events surrounding a feline’s jaunt up a tree, Isaacs (Treehouse Tales, 1997, etc.) delivers a bewitching collection of poetry. Through 15 poems, the perspectives of such diverse characters as a practical cat-catcher, frightened robin, indignant tree, melancholy moon, and the sagacious cat are limned. In one, a resigned fireman pays homage to the elusive nature of the cat, “Still, I wait on my ladder and take off my hat/To the prince of lost spaces, the uncatchable cat.” The pieces resonate with evocative imagery, as in “The Tree’s Complaint”: “When in memory did a cat/Produce an apple, plum, or peach,/Perfume the air, or offer you/The only shade upon a beach?” The poems work as stand-alone selections, but are arranged to culminating effect; when the moon laments its doom to “reflect another’s fire” rather than “sing one hour in the self-born light,” readers will appreciate the sorrow even as they wait to learn what happens next. Mackey’s rich illustrations set the opening poems in the verdant beauty of a midday park, then chart the passing of time in the midnight-blue, velvet softness of an evening sky. Combining elements both humorous and mystical, Isaacs sends the cat up the tree and transports readers to myriad worlds. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)