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by John Cech & illustrated by Kathy Osborn

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-689-80510-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Off the coast of Key West, Florida, drifting on a sea of memories, floats Ernesto the cat, wetting his line in hopes of a meal. While he awaits a nibble, Ernesto ponders the meaning of his earlier eight lives, which included running with the bulls in Pamplona and eating 471 of Alice B.'s ``infamous brownies'' in Paris. Then his line snaps straight (``Carumba! It's a big one!'') and, towed by the unseen fish, he is taken on an extended tour of the Atlantic. When the fish does surface--an enormous white whale- -he offers Ernesto sage advice: ``Stay away from fishing. Try writing instead.'' Cech (First Snow, Magic Snow, 1992, etc.) acknowledges his homage to Hemingway in a note in the back; even so, children will find this plot governed more by caprice than by compelling story elements. Adults and other ``insiders'' (readers old enough to have passing familiarity with the references) will find this a clever piece, picaresque in its own right and possibly a springboard for exploring Hemingway's stories. Osborn's vibrant, evocative gouaches--in frames featuring cirrus, cumulus, and stratus clouds in a variety of configurations--sail right along with the narrative's fanciful tack. (Picture book. 7-9)