Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's All About the Cats

I’m on vacation for the next two weeks and because I’ve done so much traveling this year already, I’ve decided to stay close to home, doing some day trips and working in my garden. Besides, I’ve finally convinced my cats to forgive me from ‘abandoning’ them for the ten days I spent in Vancouver recently for an academic conference, and as Arthur Miller so famously wrote in his play Death of a Salesman ‘attention must be paid’. I suspect he had cats. So in honour of the furry critters that allow me to share their house, here are a few of my favourite cat books coming out this fall. I adore Nick Bruel’s books. The original Bad Kitty picture book was one of my picks and is a favourite with many children (and librarians) across Canada. Bad Kitty Gets A Bath is an illustrated chapter book that captures all of the humour and bad behaviour of the original book and it’s follow-up Poor Puppy. The narrator takes readers through all of the steps needed to get Bad Kitty (or any cat for that matter) into the tub, including preparations (run the bath, have first aid supplies handy), where to begin the search for Kitty, what to do when you’ve got her trapped in the bathroom, a glossary of common cat sounds and their meanings and lots of fun and educational facts about cats.
The picture above is my cat Mo, who is not a bad kitty, and who humoured me by posing in the tub for this picture. My other cat, Delaney, is the one I can see reacting poorly (i.e. violently) to a bath. She was mysteriously nowhere to be found at the time the picture was taken.

It could be argued that Katie Love the Kittens is technically a ‘dog’ book, since Katie is a dog, but there are enough cats in the book that I am counting as a cat book for this posting. Katie is a little dog who is SOO excited when her owner brings home three kittens, she can’t help but howl. Unfortunately her howling scares the kittens and she is told to leave them alone.
Katie is crushed- she has the best of intentions, and just wants to play after all. John Himmelman is the author of one of my favourite picture books from last year, Chickens to the Rescue. He has the ability to write a story kids will love, and also create detailed illustrations that capture in the simplest lines the emotions of the characters- the kitten’s fear, Katie’s dejection, and (my favourite) the page that depicts Katie trying to fight the urge to howl. This urge starts as a tail wag, and then moves to a full body wag before breaking through Katie’s clenched teeth. All ends well and the last page is hilarious- showing Katie playing with the kittens, who are no longer afraid and are showing that they’ve picked up Katie’s enthusiasm for playing.
I am confident that Wabi Sabi, a stunning new picture book by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young is going to win awards. Written in a mix of haiku and short text, it tells the story of a cat named Wabi Sabi, who sets off on a journey to discover the meaning of his name. Wabi Sabi is a Japanese phrase describing a view of finding beauty in imperfection, the impermanent and incomplete. This is a difficult concept to understand or describe, but Reibstein does so beautifully and simply through his text. The collage illustrations by Ed Young are incredible- I found myself touching the paper as the images are so clear the book feels as though the pages should be three dimensional. The illustrations and text are complemented by haiku written by famous Japanese poets, and are translated and explained in the author’s note at the end of the book. The book is done in a calendar style layout (the binding is at the top of the book and you flip the pages up rather than side to side) and the cover and interior pages are done in rough paper. Gorgeous!
O.K.- now back to the vacation! The kitties have already started...


Corene Kozey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maylin said...

Hi Corene,
thanks for reading our blog - I noticed you tried to leave a number of "test" comments and were probably frustrated that they didn't show up. Due to problems with spam and a lot of people leaving comments that are nothing more than advertising (often for products that have nothing to do with books or the blog), we have to moderate each comment. We won't "editorialize" - I'm happy to post all comments, positive or constructively critical as long as they are not hurtful or overtly self-promotional. So please feel free to leave us a comment and enter into a conversation about books - it may just take a short while before the comment shows up on the blog.

cheers, Maylin

Corene Kozey said...

Hi Maylin

I apologize for the comment, I was just testing as to whether I could actually post a comment. I'm a bit new at this sort of thing. Sorry Corene