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PUSS IN BOOTS by Steve Light Kirkus Star


adapted by Steve Light & illustrated by Steve Light

Age Range: 3 - 5

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8019-4368-9
Publisher: Abrams

This collage adaptation of the old tale is alive with texture. Hand-stamped patterned paper, weathered fabric, and various solid whites and off-whites are combined with scribbled pencil and swirling paint to create illustrations that are compelling and pleasantly busy. Dramatic changes of scale (showing both geographical distance and physical power) and the characters’ ever-changing positions and postures make every picture unique. Puss herself is cut from worn, striped fabric and sports an ornamented coat and huge black boots. Initially an inheritance that her master finds disappointing, Puss quickly becomes the main character. With prowess and ingenuity both feline and human, she cleverly brings her master from a state of poverty into a state of wealth, love, and joy. This version is gentler than many others: peasants are promised rewards (rather than threatened) when Puss needs their help in her scheme, and tiny smiles appear on almost every page. Even the ogre is fairly mild-mannered compared to many fairy-tale monsters. However, somewhere underneath the mildness is depth, made up of Puss’s intelligence and power and the complexity of the illustrations. The unusual variety of texture and pattern invites slow or repeated perusal, but the quickly moving plot will also support group readings. The simple text, sometimes subtly funny, is a perfect match for both story and pictures. This playful and rich adaptation, complete with a heroine who is male in most versions, is fresh and full of energy. (Picture book/fairy tale. 3-5)