Calista Brill is a legendary comics and picture-book editor, part of the powerhouse team at Firstsecond (she's my editor!), and with Cat Wishes, a picture book that's sweet and surprising, she shows just how well she understands the form she practices.

A cat is wandering in the woods when it pounces on a snake that makes the convincing case that it will grant Cat three wishes in exchange for its life. Though cat is full of feline skepticism, it lets the snake go, and then, stomach rumbling, wishes for a fish — only to stumble upon a pond where the fish are plentiful and easily caught.

Cat continues to make wishes — first, a rainstorm makes it wish for a warm house, and it finds an empty, well-appointed house with a fire to snooze by. When Cat wakes in the spooky night, it wishes for a friend.

That's when a little girl comes in, and tells Cat that she had caught and released a magic snake, wishing for lunch (she's holding a picnic basket) and, when the storm broke, a raincoat (she's carrying a handsome red coat), and a friend.

Cat climbs into her arms and the last page shows her cuddling Cat, while Cat purrs.

Artist Kenard Pak's illustrations are dreamy watercolors whose impressionism doesn't make them any less expressive — the shadows brood in the house at night, the rain is grey and miserable, the little girl is the friend you always wanted.

It's a perfect and perfectly satisfying bedtime story of a book. My daughter is 10, and it's been a couple years since this kind of thing was her cup of tea, and I miss those days, because this kind of story is really lovely.

Cat Wishes [Calista Brill and Kenard Pak/HMH]