Bossy boots is back

17th November 2000 at 00:00
Puss in Boots has all the ingredients of a favourite Christmas production: a rags-to-riches plot combined with wisdom, a little cunning and feline wiles put to good use.

This clever and imaginative retelling by Philip Pullman and illustrated by Ian Beck (Doubleday pound;10.99), brings the pantomime theatricality of the story to life.

After writing a play of the same name for the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, Pullman thought Puss in Boots would make a great picture-book, and so it does.

Illustrator Ian Beck is at his best. He is heavily influenced by 18th-century art and makes full use of speec bubbles as thespian asides and sepia inserts to conjure imagined events. He combines these, and the formality of composition - like the wood engravings of the period - to give the work a theatrical feel.

The story has echoes of Jamil's Clever Cat (Frances Lincoln pound;9.99) - a Bengali folk-tale retold and illustrated by Fiona French. In Puss in Boots, Jacques inherits a cat whose eye for riches and silver tongue earn him the attention of a princess. Pullman employs his usual pace, verve and clarity to create a text which is made for performance by readers young or old, teacher or pupil.

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