Saturday, March 1

Scarlatti’s Cat by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, Illustrated by Carlyn Beccia

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Carolrhoda Books and is used solely as an aide to the review.

While Domenico Scarlatti composes sonatas on his harpsichord, his cat Pulcinella dreams of making music of her own.

When circumstance brings Pulcinella to the keys of the harpsichord, she can no longer keep her music bottled up inside her. Will Scarlatti embrace or reject his feline's melodic passion?

I will admit to being a stranger to the work and life of Domenico Scarlatti, but to have an introduction to his character through the lively and enchanting tale of his legendary cat was wonderful. Cats have been the inspiration to many creative figures throughout the ages and Pulcinella is credited with being the muse for Scarlatti's 'The Cat's Fugue.' Yet in 'Scarlatti's Cat,' he is the one to stir her creativity, which I thought was a nice depiction of the way individuals can mutually inspire one another.

Lachenmeyer manages to tell the story of Scarlatti and Pulcinella in a way that captures all the mystery and magic. There is a rather melodic feel to the book, yet it also has its bursts of energy, specifically when Pulcinella is causing a ruckus. The narrative has a very distinctive voice and the imagery in the wording is equally as strong as that of the illustrations. Coupled together they tell a splendid tale.

I love the soft yet bright colours Beccia uses. They really help to capture the setting of the story, and make it come alive on the page. My favourite illustration in the book is of Pulcinella sitting on the window ledge in the moonlight, running her paws along the lines of music she composes in her mind. The contrast of the blue night sky and the ginger of the cat's fur is striking, and the way in which the music weaves through the air is magical.

The story ended on a note of wonder and fancy and left me lingering in a world of melodies, curious about Scarlatti and Pulcinella. I would recommend 'Scarlatti's Cat' to anyone who wants a book laced with music, mischief and mystery.

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