Dec 29, 2018

Another Fave from 2018

Families Books, 2018

You only need to examine the cover of LUIS AND TABITHA, written by Stephanie Campisi and illustrated by Hollie Mengert, to recognize who the two main characters are in this delightful picture book. Fall into their eyes to feel their irresistible appeal and imagine the star-crossed love story waiting within the pages of this recent picture book.
Luis is one irresistible cat, and I'm speaking as a cat-lover with allergies. Both the text and the sleek, stylized illustrations make Luis's distinctive charm purr-fectly clear. He has become an unofficial member of the fire crew who saved his life, savoring his regular meals, public appearances, and freedom to stroll the neighborhood at will. 
Those strolls introduce him to prim and proper (and indoor) show cat, Tabitha. Unfortunately, Tabitha's owner is not a romantic, especially when it comes to street cats. Charming Luis woos them both, bringing the sweetest (and funniest) treats to Tabitha's door. He wins Tabitha's heart even more, but not her owner's. 
I'll stop the story there and mention that my reading was interrupted at this point. I couldn't return to it until the next day, but I found myself yearning to get back to the book, to find out what happened next. This is often true while reading novels but it rarely happens with picture books. In this case, once I returned to it I wasn't disappointed and realized that this forty-plus page picture book has many of the plot points of a novella. Luis and Tabitha have the character depth to carry it off, and the extra pages allow the illustrator to take a well-told story and "work it" fully. 

This is a thoroughly modern and appealing story enriched by updated/old-school illustrations, giving a solid nod to Disney's LADY and the TRAMP of my childhood memory. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Luis (and- SPOILER- Tabitha) make a return appearance in future picture books.

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