WHO LOVES ME?
As moonlight dapples her bed, a girl finds herself in a contemplative mood. "Who loves me?" she wonders. Fortunately, wise counsel is close at hand: her talking marmalade tabby. Family members and friends love her, the cat reassures her, and despite what she suspects, the dog's love isn't dependent on the treats she proffers. "He would love you even if you didn't," insists the cat. Of course, the cat's affections are never in question; after all, "I brought you a mouse once." (The girl replies that she let the mouse go. "That mouse loves you, too," notes the feline wryly.) Some children may find Shepherd's (Rules of the Wild ) dreamlike paintings a bit abstract. The cat, a combination of mysterious sagacity and good-humored affection, feels genuinely magical as it encourages the girl's reveries (especially when those reveries involve goldfish). The heroine's broad, stylized face and broomstick hair, however, at times give the impression of an editorial creation rather than a literary character with which children can identify. MacLachlan unwinds her prose with the lilt of a lullaby and the plainspoken eloquence of a real child. The conceit of putting what would normally be a parent's reassurances into the mouth of a beloved pet adds a tang of objectivity to the cat's words of comfort. Ages 4-8. (May)