Charles Perrault first published his collection of classic French folk tales 300 years ago, including "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty," and this entertaining story about a most clever feline. In Puss and Boots, a poor miller dies and leaves his youngest son nothing but a cat. The son is none too happy about it, either; " ...once I've eaten my cat and made a muff out of the fur, I'm sure to starve," he says. But what a legacy the bequeathed cat turns out to be! The cat in tall boots creates a new identity for the youngest son--the Marquis of Carabas, complete with fine clothes, fields of wheat, a castle stolen from an ogre, and in the end, the respect of the king and the hand of the king's daughter. The story itself is gracefully and humorously told, and the text, set in large gray type, adds an old-fashioned air to the tale.
Fred Marcellino's illustrations for Puss in Boots--a Caldecott Honor Book--are infused with golden light and summer warmth in the sun-dappled woods and beside the fields of ripe grain. Many of his paintings show a masterful use of perspective; the reader sometimes looks down on a scene as though from a balcony, or from below, at a huge charging lion. Marcellino has also illustrated a version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier and two books by Tor Seidler, A Rat's Tale and The Wainscott Weasel. Young listeners won't soon forget this crafty character of a cat, who has a great deal of charm despite his less-than-honest means of helping his master. (Ages 5 to 9)