Here’s another rerun from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
“Macavity: The Mystery Cat” is perhaps one of the best-loved poems from the Eliot collection, and Robins has infused new life into the trickster cat. The comical, full- or double-page illustrations are as frisky as Macavity, often showing just his tail as he disappears off the page after one of his sly antics. The hand-lettered look of the text adds to the sprightliness of the scenes. The text’s rich vocabulary makes for some challenges. “Macavity, Macavity, / there’s no one like Macavity, / for he’s a fiend in feline shape, / a monster of depravity.” Here, the cat’s fiendishness is obvious, as he holds a frantic mouse by the tale as it desperately tries to escape; his “depravity” is indicated on the facing page, as he lures a passel of pigeons with dropped bread crumbs to an unspecified end. The timing of the publication is smart, celebrating the 75th-anniversary edition of the original book and a Broadway return of the musical Cats in July. Two other individual picture-book poems from the anthology are scheduled for later 2016 release: Mr.Mistoffelees and Skimbleshanks, also illustrated by Robins.
Young readers won’t need to know the story’s literary origins, they’ll just enjoy the romp of a conniving cat. (Picture book. 4-8)