Seacat and Dragon King by Angela Carter
Sea-Cat and his mother live an idyllic life at the bottom of the sea: they garden together (growing sea cucumbers, naturally), watch the twinkling starfish and decorate their elegant home with fishing-net curtains. Like all good mothers, Sea-Cat's mum worries about him catching cold, so she makes him a wonderful coat.
This creation is truly a labour of love, as she scours the ocean to find 'forsaken treasures' to embellish it. Sea-Cat does feels like the cat's pyjamas in his new outfit and, as he swims proudly through the depths, the other creatures marvel at his beauty. But not everyone is full of admiration for the glittering Sea-Cat.
The lonely Dragon King skulks in his cave, literally turning green with jealousy. Surely if he can take Sea-Cat's beautiful coat he will become beautiful too, and have lots of friends? Through the selfless generosity of Sea-Cat and his mother, Dragon King comes to realise that beauty cannot be put on like a coat; when you feel good about yourself you achieve an inner beauty, and that in turn makes you nicer to know. The inherently moral tone of Carter's delicious story is laid on with great delicacy. Adult readers will savour her witty wordplay while children will love Eva Tatcheva's quirky line drawings. By the end of this absorbing story, not only will children have realised the importance of mother-love and self-esteem, they will also have enjoyed a moving tale. (Kirkus Review UK)