Publishers WeeklyWoelfle (The Wind at Work: An Activity Guide to Windmills) transforms a historical account of the 15th-century St. Elizabeth's Day flood in Holland into an engaging story in terms that children will understand; the facts never intrude upon the seamless narrative. Katje the cat belongs to Niko the miller, but when he marries and Anneke is born, the feline is no longer the center of the household. Even though Katje moves into the windmill, she loves playing with Anneke and rocking her cradle. When the town's dike breaks and Anneke and the cat are swept into dangerous floodwaters, Katje keeps the baby's cradle level until they are rescued. The epilogue describes the Kinderdijk (Children's Dike) built to honor the baby saved by a cat. Like the text, Bayley's (The Necessary Cat) richly detailed artwork not only chronicles the events, but also captures the cat's uncannily human emotions. The panel illustrations, like miniature Dutch paintings, glow with a patina of amber light and parallel the excitement of the text; early scenes show the serene town and domestic life while later paintings chronicle the rising floodwaters, culminating in a wordless spread of cat and baby bobbing precariously in the cradle. Delft tiles in traditional patterns as well as those incorporating images from the story decorate each page. Both art and text infuse this little-known piece of history with warmth and imagination. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's LiteratureMeet Katje. He's living the good life with his owner Nico in South Holland. He practically has the run of the place until one day his world suddenly changes. Nico marries, and Lena comes to live with them. Before he knows it, Lena forbids Katje to do many things, like track dirt in the house and sleep with Nico on the bed. When Nico and Lena's baby Anneke is born, however, Katje finds a new friend. He loves to play with Anneke, until Lena comes and shoos him away. One day, a flood sweeps through the town and Katje takes drastic measures to save Anneke. It isn't long before even Lena is grateful to Katje, and he becomes a hero. This wonderful book is based on a true story of the St. Elizabeth's Day flood in 1421 in Holland, in which a heroic cat saved a baby's life. The soft-hued illustrations add to the book's charm. 2001, Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 5 to 7. Reviewer:Sheree Van Vreede
School Library Journal - School Library JournalK-Gr 3-Katje has an easy life. She keeps Nico's mill free of mice during the week, chases seagulls on Sundays, and sleeps on her owner's pillow at night. All that changes when he brings home a wife, who scolds the cat for her dusty paws and banishes her from the bedroom. When their baby arrives, the feline loves playing with her and gently rocking her cradle. Lena scolds again, saying that the cat will make the baby sneeze or tip the cradle, and a forlorn Katje takes up residence in the mill instead of the house. However, when a violent storm breaks through the dike and floodwaters wash the cradle out of the house, it is Katje who rescues Anneke by leaping from side to side to keep the cradle upright. Her place of honor in the family secure, she returns to the house, although she now remembers to lick her paws before entering. An author's note indicates that the book is based on a true event that occurred in 1421 in South Holland. Woelfle's simple, graceful prose is a pleasure to read aloud. Bayley's lovely watercolors with their borders inspired by delft tiles are a delight for the eye. The soft blues and browns coupled with meticulous attention to detail are a perfect match for this gentle, charming tale. Pair it with Norma Green's The Hole in the Dike (Scholastic, 1974) for a discussion both of Holland's vulnerability and the courage to be found in small packages.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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