Cats, Cats, Cats

Big Cat, Little Cat

Written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Ages 3 – 6

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Big Cat, Little Cat is a tender story about an established pet cat and a new kitten. In few words and in illustrations that often leave the majority of the page as blank space, Elisha Cooper poignantly epitomizes the relationship between two cats. The big, white cat is outlined with Cooper’s thick and bold black lines. When the new, little cat comes home he is completely black, a contrasting shadow in comparison.

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The two cats stalk through the pages (and the years) together, “cleaning, climbing, hunting, exploring, making plans.” And, for brief periods each day, going wild. Eventually, the big cat gets old and dies. “And that was hard… for everyone.” A black outline of the people in the family are pictured here, for the first and only time. But the once-kitten is now a big cat and is ready to welcome a new kitten into the family home and start the cycle all over again.

It’s amazing how Cooper’s simple, bold, black lines animate the dynamism of two house cats. The blank space of the illustrations, with almost no background or house shown at all, allows this story to be the story of every reader who has had a cat (or, really, any pet). This is the wonder and joy of every pet in every household, the sadness of every loss, and the happiness of every new beginning.

The Catawampus Cat

Written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by Gus Gordon
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers
Ages 4 – 7

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In this hilariously quirky picture book, a wonky, lopsided cat strolls into a busy town. The cat is “slightly askew,” perpetually leaning to the right. At first, the busy town continues it’s bustling and the catawampus cat goes unnoticed. But as the people of the town start to wonder at this uneven cat, they tilt their heads to the side to get a better look. First, Mr. Grouse, the grocer, and his wife Lydia tilt their heads and notice…

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Lydia’s wedding ring, shining under the fruit stall. A house painter in the middle of the work day, bored with his dull job, tilts his head as the catawampus cat strolls by, accidentally painting a diagonal design on the mayor’s house.

“‘Brilliant!'” exclaimed Mayor Meyer. ‘A work of art!'”

The catawampus cat makes its way through town, altering the townspeople’s perspectives (quite literally) along the way and causing happy accidents until…

Well, you’ll just have to pick up a copy and find out what happens next.

The catawampus cat marches with purpose across each of Gus Gordon’s illustrations, double-page spreads chalk full of the various townspeople, all hustling and bustling about their respective busy days. In this perfect pairing of author and illustrator, The Catawampus Cat is sure to charm readers everywhere.

Two very different but very great books about cats.

Happy reading!

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