How to Catch a Mouse by Philippa Leathers; Candlewick Press, $15.99; William & the Missing Masterpiece by Helen Hancocks; Templar Books, $16.99.
These two amusing cat-mouse tales come from British author-illustrators. Very young children will be entranced with “How to Catch a Mouse,” a very funny picture book with sly humor and droll pencil and watercolor illustrations. Clemmie, the clueless cat, is “excellent at stalking and chasing” (a ball of yarn.) “She is patient and alert” (she watches a mouse hole as the mouse tiptoes behind her back). Such a “fearsome mouse catcher” is Clemmie, that “she has never even seen a mouse.” Why? “All mice are afraid of me,” thinks Clemmie.” “William & the Missing Masterpiece” is an oversize picture book mystery packed with cheese jokes, word play and sly art references from author-illustrator Helen Hancocks, whose debut “Penguin in Peril” was nominated for many awards. Feline detective William, “international cat of mystery,” is hired by museum official Monsieur Gruyere to track down a stolen painting, the “Mona Cheesa” (you know who, surrounded by blocks of cheese) from a Paris museum right before the “homage to fromage” art gala. Hancocks’ colorful pencil and gouache paintings of Paris street scenes, inside an art studio (of artist friends Fifi LeBrie and Henri Roquefort), the “villain” are a delight.
– Jean Westmoore