Pennypacker, Sara. Pierre in Love. Illus. by Petra Mathers. Jan. 2007. 40p. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (0-439-51740-0). PreSGr. 2
A simple fisherman, Pierre the mouse is in love with Catherine the rabbit, a ballet teacher. But how can he hope to win one so fair? Then Pierre finds something that matches Catherine's beautya shell. He decides to dress to the nines, give her the shell, and tell her how he feels. But when the moment comes, he flees, leaving the shell behind. That sets off a string of anonymous nightly gift giving, until Catherine can bear the mystery no longer. She waits up and catches Pierre, who confesses his love. Alas, Catherine loves another, but in a happily-ever-after ending, she realizes that Pierre, so smartly dressed, is, in fact, the fisherman she has admired from afar. Subtleties abound, and the emotions may affect adults more than children. But the purity of the love will touch children, too, and both the words and the art are delightful. Sometimes the phrases are elegant: Catherine's voice floated like “silver ribbon over the harbor.” Sometimes they capture the goofiness love engenders: “He felt all bloopy and love-swoggled.” The watercolors have a deceptive, childlike simplicity that draws in reader, with color, detail, and a warm expression of feelings. Ilene Cooper
Rodent Pierrea wistful fishermanis secretly in love with rabbit Catherine, an artistic ballet teacher whose studio he passes each morning. For her part, the humble Catherine has fallen for a mysterious stranger who returns to the harbor each night in his boat. How these star-crossed lovers hook up is told through a combination of a simple, direct text splashed with humor and imaginative watercolor paintings that are accomplished and varied in their composition. The pictures are particularly buoyant, with precise renderings of the whiskered Pierre and his working vessel set against luminous sky-and-seascapes in choice colors. Mathers is also skilled at showing Pierre's secret longing with misty images of the hare dancing across the waves and through the clouds. An endearingly elegant pick for Valentine's Day, featuring well-matched art and text. (Picture book. 5-8).
In this très romantique tale, whose misty coastal setting suggests Maine or Nova Scotia, fisherman-rat Pierre longs to express his hidden feelings to Catherine, a slim gray rabbit. Pierre sees her painting pictures and teaching ballet in her studio as he pilots his boat to and from their seaside village. "Pierre sighed tragically.... Catherine was exquisite, an angel of grace and beauty, and he was only an ordinary fisherman." Each night, Pierre exchanges his orange slicker and jeans for a red shirt and white trousers: "He did not look a bit like the fisherman he had been just an hour ago!" He steals to Catherine's house to declare his love, but always loses his nerve and leaves her a token of affection (a perfect pink shell, a wreath of seagrass). In Shakespearean fashion, Catherine discovers her spiffy admirer but (at first) fails to recognize him as the rugged fisherman of her dreams. With warmth and humor, Pennypacker (Clementine) charts an excessive crush: "Sunrises, sunsets, empty potato chip bags" remind Pierre of his beloved. Mathers (Lottie's New Beach Towel) paints in a naïve style that captures the ordinariness of the two who share a grand passion. Her foggy palette of teal, moss and charcoal suits the fishing village, especially in a quaint, wordless spread of Pierre docking his boat and Catherine painting at her window. This book's ideal audience is likely to be Pierre's age. Yet Pennypacker and Mathers compose a sweet but not treacly Valentine. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)