CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 22. . . .June 26, 2009
In a nice ironic turnabout, the reader discovers that Mrs. Brown, an aging, lonely woman, is more in need of rescue than the small tabby kitten that she names "Pounce" for his habit of pouncing on anything and everything. The pun intended in the kitten's name (from Spanish explorer "Ponce de Leon") is clever, but unlikely to be understood or appreciated by young listeners since it is not used or explained in the text of the story. Alas, the little cat's antics are not enough to drive away Mrs. B's depression. It remains for Pounce to get himself into trouble to bring about a lifting of his owner's spirits. The events leading up to the kitten's tumble into a pool at the end of Mrs. B's overgrown garden lean more heavily on whimsy than reality. To believe that a cat might comprehend the idea of a fountain of youth and then run outside in search it of stretches the reader's credibility more than a little.
Alfredo Tapia, a gifted Mexican artist, has created some very appealing paintings for Tim Wynne-Jones' story. In particular, Tapia's depictions of Pounce in his many moods are delightfully realistic. There are, however, some oddities which an observant reader might pick up; a few discrepancies between the text and the pictures. The first portrait of Mrs. Brown (thin-faced and wiry) is dramatically different from subsequent depictions of a plump, curly-haired woman. A further problem with the illustrations occurs as the reader attempts to get a handle on the landscape of Mrs. B.'s. property. For instance, a reader does not see the "tragically weeping willow" overlooking the pool or the grassy stretch the owner begins to mow in the few seconds between Pounce's escape from her arms and his misguided leap into the pool. (From the point of view of the story, it doesn't make too much sense that the owner would start up a noisy lawnmower when she was bent on retrieving her pet.)
Tim Wynne-Jones has written over two dozen books for children and has won an incredible number of awards, including the Governor General's award for juvenile literature twice (in 1993 for Some of the Kinder Planets and in 1995 for The Maestro) as well as the Vicky Metcalf award in 1997 for a body of work inspiring Canadian youth. His sure touch with character and theme is evident in this picture book as the wee feline with his lion-like ways helps to bring his elderly owner out of her depression. A little suspension of disbelief coupled with an appreciation of the artist's ability to evoke character and mood with his use of light and dark colours will enhance the readers' (and young listeners') enjoyment of Pounce de Leon. As a read-aloud, it should lead nicely into discussion of cats or the elderly or the connection between them.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.