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The Story of Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless Her Cat

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PreS-Gr 2 Spindly, pinched-faced Mrs. Lovewright is a ``chilly person.'' She is also a rather lonely one, and so she decides to get a cat. Her desire for companionship heralds her doom. When Purrless (originally named Purrly) arrives via the delivery boy, he is little and cute, but he steadfastly refuses to purr or even sit upon Mrs. Lovewright's lap. What ensues is a grueling and prolonged battle of wits. As Purrless grows from a small kitten to an enormous cat, children see Mrs. Lovewright scratched, beaten, tumbled out of bed and bombed with a variety of common household objects. Neither character ever grasps the importance of compromise or mutual respect. In the end they are pictured in a tenuous truce with Mrs. Lovewright still lamenting her pet's lack of coziness and Purrless' twitching tail foreshadowing the possibility of future attacks. Although Segal should be commended for her attempt to demonstrate poorly motivated pet ownership and its potential for dire consequences, this story's execution is marred by excessive and inappropriate violence. Jarring transitions further detract from the text and add annoyance. The strongest point is Zelinsky's illustrations, which are both witty and satirical. Each of the characters gains clarity and personality under his sure hand. Textures and subtle colors blend well to portray this quiet home turned battleground. Unfortunately, they do not salvage this unpleasant story of on-going strife. Xenda Casavant, Worcester Public Library, Mass.

No one will disagree with the statement from Maurice Sendak, who sees the collaboration of author and illustrator as ``the essence of an original picture book.'' Segal adds to her laurels as a novelist, translator and writer of prized children's books with this lark, and so does Zelinsky. His full-color, hilarious pictures are as splendid as his award-winners in Hansel and Gretel et al. The story of chilly, unsociable Mrs. Lovewright starts tamely when she asks Dylan, who delivers her groceries, to find a cat, little and cute, to purr on her lap. Dylan delivers, all right, and the kitten is little and cute but he was born with the proud, intransigent character of his kind. He will not purr. He will not curl up cozily on Mrs. Lovewright's lap. The story becomes funnier and more surprising as Purrless and his adversary get into furious battles for supremacy, with Dylan as the interested onlooker, until the wistfully comic resolution. (48)

"Splendid...surprising...wistfully comic." --Publishers Weekly "Wonderfully idiosyncratic." --Washington Post Book World "A brief, enchanting, alarming, and funny-profound children's book. Children in very large numbers will take to wonderful Purrless." --New York Times Book Review "Segal's telling is lyrical, remarkable; Zelinsky's illustrations are masterpieces of comic emotion." --New York Daily News "If fresh, imaginative writing and brilliantly animated pictures, all wonderfully syncopated, are the essence of an original picture book, then Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless Her Cat is indeed a dazzling example." -- Maurice Sendak

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