Tag: cats

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

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They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel (InfoSoup)

A cat walks through the house and the backyard and is seen by different people and animals in their own unique way. The child sees a very friendly cat, the mouse a terrifying creature with huge teeth, the fish sees a watery figure, the bat sees the space the cat takes up, and the worm sees the vibrations of the cat through the earth. Each creature perceives the cat in a different way. Even the cat itself, as it heads to the water, is about to see itself in a personal way.

This very simple book offers a fascinating look at perception and the ways that each of us sees and views the world around us. The repeating first line of “The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws…” keeps the book clearly focused and adds an important stylistic component. The book also celebrates imagination as children can start to see the unique ways not only they view the world but can imagine the ways that other creatures see the world in such a different way. The idea of perspective is also introduced, particularly from the cat itself, a flea riding in the cat’s fur and the bird flying high above. There is plenty to discuss in this book and it invites investigation and learning.

The illustrations are a critical part of the concept, showing how an insect’s eyes see the world in a very different way. They also capture not only how an animals sees but their relationship with the cat. The dog sees a lean and almost whiplike creature. The fox sees a juicy round animal. This use of both physical perspective and personal perspective is very cleverly and clearly done.

A book to generate discussion, I can see this being used in conversations about differing points of view as well as art classes on perspective. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

 

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Kate Berube (InfoSoup)

Nick has two pet cats, Verne and Stevenson. They love doing things together, but the cats don’t appreciate it when Nick sits down to read. So Nick decides to teach them to read too. He starts with easy words, but the cats aren’t interested. He moves on to flash cards and soon Verne is paying attention, particularly when the words and books have to do with fish. Verne sounds out words and starts reading books on his own, he even gets his own library card. Stevenson doesn’t seem interested at all though. Verne and Nick have lots of fun acting out the stories that they are reading, though it would be more fun with Stevenson playing too. Then one day Nick discovers pictures that Stevenson has drawn of a pirate story. Could it be that Stevenson is interested after all?

Manley cleverly shows the process of learning to read in this picture book. Moving from simple words to sounds of letters to looking at books on your own and then reading entirely on your own. Delightfully, he also has Stevenson who is a reluctant reader. Stevenson though just needs someone to notice what he is passionate about and suddenly he too is interested in reading. It’s a smart way to show that we are all readers, some of us just need to not read about fish but about pirates!

The illustrations by Berube are friendly and fun. I love that Nick is a child of color and that it is not an “issue” in the book or even mentioned. One special part of the book is Stevenson’s expressions which are pure grumpiness and then can be seen later in the book as purely piratical.

A summery book about reading that will move nicely into the school year. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

 

My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo

My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo

My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo (InfoSoup)

When a puppy comes to live with his new cat mother, he is scared. But his mother reassures him. He tries to give himself stripes so he looks more like her, but she says there is no need to change at all. She likes that they are different and the puppy does too. His new mom takes care of him and plays with him. Not all days are perfect, but his mother tells him that they can do better next time and that it is OK. This is a portrait of a newly formed family finding their way together.

Galindo captures the emotions of a newly adopted child in this picture book. She tells the story with a frank simplicity that really works, not trying to explain away the emotions but allowing them to show in their messiness as a reassurance that such emotions will not undo a new adoption. Galindo also shows the connection building and love that an adoptive family feels. Her decision to use a single parent is one that is not always seen in picture books about adoption.

The art is very effective. Large on the page, it is done in a limited palette of oranges, yellows and grays. The differences between cat mother and dog child are beautifully clear and the part where the puppy paints stripes on himself is a visual reminder of the desire to be a solid family unit. Just the use of a dog and cat as the characters was a brilliant choice. It is clear to children that they are very different and could even have points of view that are opposites.

A simple and strong new picture book about adoption from the child’s point of view. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart

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The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith (InfoSoup)

A white cat named Pangur and a monk live together. At night, by candlelight the two work side by side. The monk quietly studies his books. The cat hunts mice along the walls, examining a mouse hole. The two do not disturb one another. At the end of the night, as day comes, they have both found what they were seeking. One searching for the joy of an answer to a puzzle and the other for the satisfaction of a successful hunt.

This picture book is a retelling of a classic Old Irish poem “Pangur Bán.” It is a tale that is contemplative and quiet. It offers space to simply be, a world of solitude and study, and also one that is filled with richness of the most simple forms. Bogart captures the power of a man’s simple monastic life accompanied by an animal companion. In particular, it is the interplay of their evening activities that demonstrate the impact of the natural world on even the quietest of evenings.

Smith’s illustrations evoke a period of time that is filled with illuminated texts, thick stone monastery walls and the light of several candles. They are done with rich blacks and subtle colors, the light playing across the page as the cat seeks dark corners.

A beautiful look at the power of contemplation, mindfulness and cats. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

Spot the Cat by Henry Cole

Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole (InfoSoup)

In this wordless picture book, a cat named Spot heads out of an open window and into adventures in the city. The book is done in black and white illustrations with lots of fine details, perfect settings for a small spotted cat to get lost. It is up to the reader to find Spot on each page, something that can be challenging on some pages, even for adults. Spot visits areas throughout the city from a farmer’s market to a park filled with kites in the air. While he is adventuring though, his owner is looking for him, putting up lost cat posters around the neighborhood and missing him each time.

It is the art here that makes the book so enchanting. The details are so well done that as a reader I kept getting lost in what others on the page were doing. The world the cat and the boy explore on the page makes sense. It is all cohesive, filled with people going about their days in ways that read as natural and real. In other words, it’s a joy to read and explore the pages whether you are able to spot Spot or not.

A great seek-and-find book but also a great wordless picture book with a story too. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon and Schuster.

The House that Zack Built by Alison Murray

The House that Zack Built by Alison Murray

The House that Zack Built by Alison Murray (InfoSoup)

Zack built a house out of blocks outside under a tree. A fly buzzed by, the cat stalked the fly, then got more interested in the cream up high on a shelf. The dog was asleep when down fell the cream, knocked over by the cat who was still looking to catch that fly. The lambs in the field are calm and quiet, then the dog runs through still covered in cream and the sheep dash out of the field. Then Zack looks around, amazed at the mess of the farm. He jumped into action and set it all right. Then they all sat quietly and looked at the incredible house that Zack had built.

This British import is a cumulative tale that doesn’t solely stick to the traditional structure of building and building onto the length of the sentence with each new addition. Instead here it is the story itself that is the focus and the cumulative structure is used when it works and then merrily abandoned to make the storyline work better and to also make the book much more enjoyable to read. The result is a cumulative tale that will not leave you breathless or with a spinning head when shared aloud.

Murray’s art is simple and friendly. The illustrations will work well for a crowd since they are not filled with small details. Children will enjoy the cat in particular as it causes almost all of the problems that emerge.

There is a real satisfaction in this story of watching chaos happen and then having it set to rights. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Ketzel the Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman

Ketzel the Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman

Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates (InfoSoup)

Moshe Cotel enjoyed his noisy apartment since he heard all of that sound as music that he added to his musical compositions. Each day, Moshe would compose in the morning and then he would head out into the city for a walk to listen to all of the noises outside. One day, he discovered a tiny kitten and took it home. There he discovered that the cat loved music. When he got notice of a contest at The Paris New Music review, Moshe despaired since each composition could be no more than sixty seconds long. It was then that Ketzel walked across the keyboard, creating a song that took only 21 seconds to play. Moshe and Ketzel received a Special Mention in the contest and both of them attended and even took a bow together on stage.

Based on a true story, this picture book shows the beautiful bond that a composer had with his very talented cat. More than that though, it shows a very special man who could hear music everywhere even in his cat stepping on keys. The story is written in a very engaging way, allowing the reader to fall for both Moshe and Ketzel. The Author’s Note at the end offers more information, including what CD has the song on it so readers can hear it.

Bates’ illustrations are done in watercolor, gouache and pencil. They have a subtle coloring and distinct warmth to them. From the cluttered apartment of Moshe with coffee cups, papers and his glasses strewn about to the vibrant streets outside, this book is like entering a memory. Ketzel herself is a rich ball of black-and-white fur who owns each page she is on, filling it with her personality if not her size.

An engaging true story, this picture book is an inspiring look at the gifts that animals bring to all of our lives. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.