A larger-than-life cat’s face with glowing, green eyes peeks out of a red sack on the cover of this story about a stowaway in Santa’s sleigh, with those compelling eyes silently begging the reader to open the cover.
The appealing feline star of the story is a calico cat named Slipper. She hears footsteps in “the darkest hour of the night,” and in a stunning double-page spread, a nearly life-sized Slipper stalks the dark house ready to pounce. She finds that the source of the noise is Mr. Furry Boots, a familiar figure in a red suit and black boots trimmed with fluffy, white fur. Slipper slyly slips into Santa’s sack and is inadvertently taken back to his house at the North Pole. In a clever play on words, Santa’s wife, Ms. Furry Boots, shakes out the almost-empty toy sack: “And she let the cat out of the bag!” (Mr. and Ms. Furry Boots are both white.) Slipper is soon homesick and sets off into the dark to try to find her way home. In a touching rescue, Santa finds the sad cat sitting in the sleigh and kindly flies her in first-class fashion back to her own house on Christmas night. Exceptionally striking illustrations use unusual perspectives and dramatic pacing, with the dark, nighttime settings skillfully creating suspense and mood. A subtle focus on feet includes the cat’s name, Santa’s boots, several pairs of elf feet in pointed shoes bedecked with bells, and a pair of furry red slippers that make Slipper the cat long for home. The succinct, perfectly paced text makes every carefully chosen word count.
This stowaway is here to stay as a new Christmas classic. (Picture book. 2-7)