Tag: cats

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani (9781419723490, Amazon)

This simple counting picture book is full of feline fun. Starting with one sleeping cat, the book moves to two cats playing with yarn, then three cats stack together into a tower like the cover of the book demonstrates. Four and five cats make towers that threaten to tip. Six cats wisely split into two towers of three cats. Seven cats nap together and then eight cats try a very tall stack and tumble down. Nine cats form three stacks of three and ten cats are just too many. So then the subtraction starts and counting backwards begins.

This is simple counting presented in a humorous and clever way. The text has a great rhythm to it that weaves nicely into the counting itself. Small children will enjoy counting the cats and adults helping them can ask them to count the sleeping cats and point out the basics of multiplication and division shown clearly on the page.

The illustrations are bright and cheery, filled with teals and oranges that pop against one another. They have crisp graphic qualities and the cats themselves are entirely adorable as they play, snooze and stack on the pages.

A winning cat-filled counting book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.

The Lost Kitten by Lee

The Lost Kitten by Lee

The Lost Kitten by Lee, illustrated by Komako Sakai (9781776571260, Amazon)

Originally published in Japan, this picture book demonstrates compassion and empathy as a mother and daughter, Hina, take in a lost kitten. A stray mother cat brings her kitten to their doorstep, scrawny with goopy eyes. Hina would prefer a cute kitten from a pet store. They care for the little kitten, give it some milk and Hina holds it and listens to its purr. Her mother heads out for milk, leaving Hina to care for the kitten. But when Hina turns back, the kitten has disappeared. Hina thinks of the time that she too got lost, knowing what the little cat must be feeling. She knows she has to help.

Lee’s text is gentle and moving. The connection between child and kitten is delicately created, anchored by their similar experiences of being lost. Lee allows the story to play out, using a light touch as the story spins and giving the reader the space to make connections themselves.

The illustrations by Sakai are equally gentle and expressive. Done in pastel colors with strong textural lines that carry from one image to the next. The kitten is depicted with real care, its bones almost showing through its fur. Tiny and fragile, it still fills the pages with hope.

Beautiful and delicate, this picture book is filled with compassion and love. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper (9781626723719, Amazon)

Master picture book crafter, Cooper tells the gentle and poignant story of the friendship between two cats. The white cat lived alone for some time in his home until a new little black cat came. The older white cat helped the little cat learn what to do, how to use the litter box, when to rest, when to eat and drink. As the days and months passed, the black cat grew to be just as big as the white cat. Then one day, the white cat was gone and doesn’t ever return. Still, life continues and brings a new surprise.

Cooper excels at simple stories and illustrations with profound implications. Here there is a gentle message of death and life that is just right for little ones. There is a quietness here, a stillness that resonates throughout as well, the sense that a life well lived is the important thing and the connections made along the way. This is there, but subtle, a book filled with deep thought that is there to find but not projected at you. It’s a book of quiet insight.

Cooper’s illustrations are just as simple and discerning as the story itself. The use of black and white cats is a smart choice that allows the illustrations to stay simple and yet speak to differences and connections clearly and deeply. As the little cat grows, the two are different only in color and then the circle of life becomes all the more definite.

Simple and insightful, this book is solid and true. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

 

All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson

All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson

All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson (9781481415712, Amazon)

This picture book starts from the turn of the first page before the title page even appears. Questions are asked that let us follow the falling leaves into the book itself. The book layers words and questions, asking readers to look at the illustrations for the answers and creating rhymes that carry the reader deeper into the woods. The story follows a fox and a cat, as they make their way through the forest with an owl’s call haunting the air. Other sounds appear as well, inviting readers to guess what they are hearing and seeing. This is a sensory feast for children and an invitation to explore the night.

Jackson plays with language throughout the book. His poetry is layered and complex. It is created to be read aloud where the buried rhymes suddenly come through and the rhythms beat more strongly. Just as the book is about following sensory clues, the poetry is like that as well. You simply must give yourself up to the experience of reading it aloud rather than trying to control it at all. Throughout it is surprising, quiet and wild.

Tillotson’s illustrations are as rich and complex as the poetry. She crafts a wildness using perspectives and small details. Other pages are filled with darkness and near silence, then there is more to see and hear. Children will love looking for animals that they can just glimpse on the page: the porcupine disappearing into the darkness, the treefrog nearly invisible on a log.

A brilliant book to share aloud, this picture book is wild and free. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith (9781626725362, Amazon, GoodReads)

On a sunny day, all of the creatures are having a perfect day. Cat can feel the sun on her back as she walks in the daffodils. Dog is sitting in the cool water in his wading pool. Bert, a little boy, fills the birdfeeder and Chickadee enjoys the seeds. Down below, Squirrel is trying to reach the birdfeeder and Bert gives him corn to enjoy. Everyone is having a perfect day. Until Bear arrives.

This book is incredibly simple and exceedingly perfect itself. Smith uses only a few short sentences to tell the story. Repetition is used to keep the book focused and also to make it nicely accessible to even the smallest children. There is a lovely quiet to the book, a joy in the simple and everyday that then becomes something surprising and entirely unusual in the end.

I love that the cover has the bear on it, foreshadowing the twist for little children. The illustrations are done in mixed media that is deeply textured and warm. One can almost pet the cat on the page, feel the cool water in the pool, and run fingers over the cob of corn. It adds to the simple delights of the book immensely.

Perfection to share with toddlers and preschoolers, expect this one to become a favorite. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton

The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton

The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by Gus Gordon (9780553509717)

Released March 21, 2017.

The cat arrived in town one day and no one noticed at first. Then a grocer noticed the cat who walked entirely askew, crooked to the world. He and his wife tilted their heads to match and discovered her lost wedding ring, romance blossomed. Soon others in town were tilting too. The barber discovered a new haircut, a housepainter created modern art, the librarian pulled a different book out and found a new passion, and a young boy discovered a new way to look at math. The town entirely changed, rebuilding their houses to be crooked and having their cars made that way too. They named a day after the cat and threw a big event. But in the end, the cat had a new way once again of looking at things.

Eaton’s writing is playful and fresh. He embraces thoroughly the impact of a crooked cat on an entire city, one small change after another building to an entire shift in the society. The picture book looks not only at how one individual’s point of view can change the world but also about how being flexible enough to look at the world from a different viewpoint can change an individual and improve a life. The entire book is hopeful, funny and joyful.

Gordon’s illustrations are a mix of collage and painting. With lighthearted cartoon style, they are immensely appealing. Done in subtle colors, they combine vintage clippings, photographs of objects and loose-lined illustrations.

A winsome picture book, this one can be used to spark discussion about our own catawampus approach to life. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Crown Books.

A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie

a-cat-named-swan-by-holly-hobbie

A Cat Named Swan by Holly Hobbie (9780553537444)

This is the story of a small kitten, who was suddenly alone on the city streets. He learned a lot about the dangers, scavenged for food, and survived. Until one day, he was taken off of the streets and put into a cage. There was plenty of food there though and no one was mean to him. Soon afterwards, he was adopted. And that is where his life changed. It became a series of perfect days. Days that started with breakfast, were filled with exploring the garden, had visits and naps, and ended with everyone returning home in the evening. Each day became night with him curled on a pillow fast asleep.

This picture book shows the harrowing life of a small kitten alone outside. Then it becomes a rescue and adoption story, one that is pure joy after the rescue takes place. The kitten learns about his new family, the dog, and the garden and house that are his too. There are small adventures, plenty of pleasures like just being with one another and bumblebees. It’s a picture book about small joys and the wonder of having a pet.

Hobbie’s illustrations are filled with energy and carry emotions clearly. The image of the kitten being lifted by his family for the first time is pure sunshine and blue sky. Readers know right then and there not to worry any longer. When they see the gardens and land, they realize that Swan has landed in kitten nirvana.

A testament to the power of animal adoption and the joy of a life well lived. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Random House Books for Young Readers.