KING OF THE CATS
With his well-known facility for expressive if unsubtle accompaniment, Galdone plays up the spooky humor of this tale from Jacobs. As it opens, the grave digger's wife waits with her black cat Old Tom in a dim, smoky cabin. Eyes pop, hands gesture, and the listening wife shrinks back as the grave digger rushes in with his story--of a black cat burial and a message from the black cat pall bearers: "Tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toldrum's dead." Through the telling, Old Tom's yellow eyes glow like those of the pictured coffin-bearers; and at the end he looms up, a black presence punctuated by the shining eyes and a wide-open red mouth, to declare himself King of the Cats and vanish forever up the chimney. Instead of using a folk tale as occasion for display, Galdone applies himself to the spirit of the story--with results that should transfix a kindergarten audience.