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MILLI, JACK, AND THE DANCING CAT by Stephen Michael King


by Stephen Michael King & illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Pub Date: April 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-399-24240-6
Publisher: Philomel

A parable of creativity fails to deliver enough story to hang its message on. Milli is clever: she “could take a thing that was a nothing . . . and make it . . . a something!” But she timidly hides all her tinkering with these somethings and makes her stolid living as a shoemaker—until Jack and the Dancing Cat, two wandering minstrels, come to town. They teach her to dance in exchange for new boots, and this unleashes Milli’s creativity to the point that when Jack and the Dancing Cat move on, Milli has transformed her yard into a Seussian spectacle of whimsical art. King’s delicate ink-and-watercolor illustrations are full of color and movement, the renderings of Milli’s art wonderfully twirly and loopy (in both senses of the word). But for all its sweetness, the story really doesn’t go much further than the basic celebration of creativity and exhortation to bravery. There’s a raft of picture books on the theme out there; with such examples as Peter H. Reynold’s The Dot (2003) available, this stands as an additional purchase. (Picture book. 4-8)