Pitschi by Hans Fischer
Originally published in Switzerland in 1947 and then first published in the US in 1953, this book is a classic that I had never read before. Old Lisette has two cats, five kittens, and a dog who are near her playing as she knits outside. That is all of the kittens are playing except for one who is sitting still and dreaming. Pitschi is much more interested in exploring and dreaming than playing with her siblings. So off she heads into the farmyard. There she finds a rooster who struts proudly. Pitschi decides that she wants to be a rooster and gives her best strut and crow. But when their crowing draws another rooster in and they fight, Pitschi decides she doesn’t want to be a rooster anymore. One after another Pitschi discovers an animal, thinks it would be grand to be that, and then learns about the drawbacks. Goats are milked. Ducks swim. And rabbits live in danger from foxes and owls. Luckily the old dog and Old Lisette are there to rescue a lost kitten after dark and remind her how grand it is to be a kitten after all.
There is a wonderful pluckiness about this little kitten. She is often unafraid, bold and always curious. Her willingness to reinvent herself is very endearing and makes for a book that is a great foil for books where the character is seeking to find those who are like themselves. Here Pitschi relishes the differences and the new character traits she finds.
Fischer’s art is free form and simple. Often colored with washes of only a few colors, his use of line is done with great skill and ease. The simple curlicues of a tree branches, the squiggles that form a rabbit’s tail, and the swirls of a basket. The illustrations come to life because of this simplicity.
Highly recommended. If you missed this treasure from the 40s and 50s, you are in luck because North South is re-releasing it this year. Share it with cat lovers or in story times about cats or farms. It is a real Swiss treat.
Reviewed from copy received from North South.