THE MAGICIAN AND McTREE by Patricia Coombs


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Not for the first time, Coombs presents us with a flagrantly synthetic folktale: ""Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a cat. His name was McTree. He lived with an old, old magician in a small hut in a big forest."" She develops it, on this occasion, into a ponderous farce. McTree falls into the magician's pot and comes out able to talk. Warned against letting anyone know, he stumbles into a bog and calls out to an old, truffle-hunting woman for help. Seizing him, she takes him to the king to get a reward. (The king is miffed because his truffles are late. ""'Now, now,' said the Queen. 'Remember your ulcer. Sit down and be quiet.'"") Nimbly claiming ""this old witch turned me into a cat,"" McTree reigns as palace pet until the novelty wears off. Meanwhile a simpy princess decides that, with ""one kiss,"" he'll turn into a handsome prince. (Best, Mayor-Koch line: ""'What are you, crazy?' cried McTree. 'I already am my own handsome self.'"") While he's fleeing her, the king is capturing the old magician--to get a Babel of talking animals. How McTree manages their joint escape to the small hut in the big forest occupies the last dozen long, long pages. Forgettable.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard