Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat, written and illustrated by Katie Harnett published in 2016 by Flying Eye Books
Blossom Street is a quaint lane edged with charming brick rowhouses. It’s home to a lovely jumble of folks, from Madame Betty, lounging most elegantly, swathed in plush pinkness, to the Sikh gardener who grows his perfect pumpkins at Number Fourteen.
It’s also the home to this plump cat.
The cat has a great gig going. Visiting each household along the avenue, he’s treated to affection and goodies from every hand. Fish from Mr. Green. Tea at the Hoskins’. His appointed rounds are as much a part of the routine as the sun coming up in the morning.
Until. One day Archie stops visiting. Where has he gone?
Discover the warmhearted conclusion to that mystery in this exceptional story. Harnett welcomes us into this beautifully-diverse community with her gorgeous palette, vivid personalities, and oodles of charm. Every page is a treat and the final spread is as heartening as a mug of tea on a cold afternoon. I see a bit of a Maira Kalman influence in her work. Don’t miss this! Ages 2 and up.
The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Ban”, words by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrations by Sydney Smith published in 2016 by Groundwood Books
An anonymous Irish Benedictine monk paused in the midst of his studies one day, over a thousand years ago, probably at an abbey in the south of Germany.
His brief reflections, written in Old Irish, were about himself and a quiet companion in his small room – a fluffy, white cat. These thoughts are at once tranquil, simple, insightful. They are both humble and elegant in their perspective, as he compares his scholarly pursuits with those of this skillful hunter.
Sydney Smith’s handsome watercolor and ink illustrations hugely magnify the impact of this book. Such spare elegance! He evokes the focus, strength, solitude, and gentleness of the monk’s world while Bogart’s rendition of the poem gracefully leads us through the monk’s train of thought.
It’s a transfixing combination that can be appreciated on several levels. A rare gem for ages 2 to adult.
They All Saw a Cat, written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel published in 2016 by Chronicle Books
Have you ever thought about what the world looks like from another vantage point? What would it be like to be 7 feet tall? Or to have extra color receptors in your eyes? What does the world look like to an ant? Or an eagle?
Brendan Wenzel explores this idea in his fabulous, thought-provoking book. One cat is just minding its own business, walking through the world where it is encountered by many different creatures. Children. A skunk. A fish. What do they see? How do their physical eyes and their views on cat-ness, affect their perception?
A bee sees the cat in a pixilated image.
A mouse sees the cat as just about the devil himself! Yikes!
This book is a marvel, start to finish. Fantastic idea, fabulously carried out. Don’t miss it, for folks ages 3-Adult.
This is Not a Cat!, written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka published in 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books
Today’s lesson in the cheery woodland school is “Recognizing Danger.” A cat, for example, is a Danger!
While Miss Mouse flips through her handy chart of Things That Aren’t Cats — cute bunnies and yummy ice-cream-cones — the attention of her class wanders mightily. Yawn. This lesson is a bore.
What neither teacher nor students are observing, though, is a huge marmalade cat looming just outside the door!
Hysteria and pandemonium break out when finally everybody recognizes this Clear and Present Danger! Run for your lives!!
Surprises, plot twists, thrills, dangers, escapes — are all crammed into this guaranteed-to-please story. There is so much going on in Wohnoutka’s illustrations! Hilarious! Take your time to take it all in. Quite a merry choice for ages 2 and up.
Cat on the Bus, written and illustrated by Aram Kim published in 2016 by Holiday House
It’s the holiday season but things aren’t looking so merry for this patchy fellow.
He’s a poor, homeless thing and wherever he turns for shelter, he’s treated to the bristly side of the broom. Scat, cat!
His luck turns when he zips onto a city bus and finds a seat next to a kindhearted grandpa. Watch what happens next, in this warm-as-toast, “purrrrr-fect” story.
Bold, colorful illustrations tell almost the whole tale here, with just a word or two sprinkled in. Lots of absorbing details are tucked in for a slow, happy wander through with ages 18 months and up.