The castle of the cats
A father sets his three sons three tasks to determine which one should inherit the family farm: to bring back "the most beautiful wedding kerchief," wedding dress, and bride. The youngest brother, Ivan, would prefer to play with his leather ball, but he is encouraged to at least try. Each time, the family horse takes him to a magnificent palace populated entirely by elegantly attired cats. The felines are enamored of the gifts he presents'┐┐first the leather ball, then some catnip leaves, and finally a wooden ring that he offers to their queen. Ivan always receives a present in return, including the queen herself in human form as a bride, enabling him to trump his brothers and win the farm. Ivan prefers an alternative "happily ever after," however, and returns instead to the castle with his feline bride and becomes a cat. A note explains that although the tale is Latvian, the author and illustrator have moved the setting to the Ukraine, as evidenced both by the flavor of the language and specifics in the artwork. Kimmel has a true storyteller's voice and keeps the action moving at an energetic pace without sacrificing images or details.