Miss Catherine St. Quintin is a mischievous kitty leading a secret double life in this recently discovered Potter tale.
Though her elderly owner thinks that she is a “serious, well behaved young black cat,” Catherine—who harbors a secret passion for air-rifle hunting while dressed in a gentleman’s Norfolk jacket and matching boots—is anything but. The rebellious (if well-bred) pet prefers palling around with common cats to presiding over tea parties with other respectable felines. After convincing a fellow cat to impersonate her, she sets out on a poaching expedition that goes awry and teaches her the value of home. While the fairly lengthy story itself, with its minx of a heroine and cameos from other well-established characters, contains the same magic that made generations of readers fall in love with Potter’s delightful animal creations, Blake’s scribbly illustrations are totally incongruous with her genteel fictional world. His style works beautifully with Roald Dahl’s madcap tales, but Potter’s refined characters merit a softer and more realistic illustrative touch. Readers who grew up enchanted by the gorgeous drawings in the Tale of Peter the Rabbit may wish that Blake had passed on this particular opportunity. Also jarring is the book’s large trim; at around 8 inches by 10 inches, it is almost twice as big as Potter’s books published in her lifetime, famously designed for “little hands.” A CD of Helen Mirren reading the text is packaged with the book.
A winsome story despite its flaws, this will leave readers hoping that Potter left more unpublished gems in the vault where it was discovered. (Picture book. 4-8)