Meow. Following Macavity: The Mystery Cat (2016), another devious cat from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (originally published in 1939) makes his appearance. This time, it’s Mr. Mistoffelees.
“For performing surprising illusions… // And creating eccentric confusions. / At prestidigitation / And at legerdemain / He’ll defy examination / And deceive you again.” Even great magicians have something to learn from Mr. Mistoffelees. Whether cutting a dog in half, performing card tricks, or doing stunts with a cork or a knife and spoon, there’s no doubt that Mr. Mistoffelees is a magical cat! As in the earlier companion book, it’s Robins’ lively, clever illustrations that pull the humor out of the hat and animate the story. Children will cheer as he sneaks through an impossibly tiny crack to snatch a very large fish and then slinks off with it “on the narrowest rail” of an ornamental fence. It doesn’t matter that young kids will not be familiar with the original source; they will simply be delighted with the rhyming text and the reactions to his humorous acts. Mr. Mistoffelees is a jaunty, disheveled charmer, black fur, red vest, and striped bow tie with top hat (of course) and magic wand. The hand-lettered text adds to the sprightliness.
A third cat tale is on the way—cat fanciers, get ready. (Picture book. 4-7)