With Panther, Belgian cartoonist Brecht Evens manages to dream up the same kind of menacing, seductive hocus-pocus that made kid-lit curmudgeons Maurice Sendak or Roald Dahl so beloved. When her pet cat gets put down, young Lucy begins to receive visits from the “crown prince of Pantherland,” who slinks out of her bottom dresser drawer, nattily attired and suspiciously fawning. What are his plans for naive Lucy? With a gaudily tweaked rainbow of watercolours, Evens paints Panther as a protean trickster who changes his puss from panel to panel, presenting whatever face he thinks would most appease the child. One moment he looks like loveable Simba; the next, he’s a scheming Cheshire Cat. The artist’s dexterity with a brush is likewise feline: when Lucy and Panther play Twister, or when the beast mauls a stuffed animal, it’s an acrobatic feat of drawing so intensely feral it borders on frightening. Far from wistful,Panther’s story of a child’s initiation into the grown-up world is recounted with an adult’s knowledge of danger and pain, and with a keen recollection of how wised-up and thick-skinned kids need to be.