I read and review a LOT of picture books. Clearly I have many opinions on this topic. I can’t even blame my current lifestyle of Squishie Wrangler- I’ve always collected picture books, the only difference is now I have to share them. Books are precious and magic. They need to be amazing and special to inspire a child’s imagination.
I have 3 criteria for a picture book:
1) beautiful illustrations
2) lyrical language
3) powerful message.
I think the illustrations can be as complex or as simple as the artist chooses, but they have to be evocative. Young kids who can’t yet read need to love the pictures. The language needs to be a delight to read aloud; the whole point of a picture book is that it will be looked at and listened to. And there needs to be a message, but not a ham-fisted moral ala Berenstain Bears. (You guys, I really hate those damn Bears.) I’m not interested in a heavy-handed lesson about Manners Are Nice or whatever. I’m building people here, I can teach them manners. I need books to help me with the Big Ideas like empathy and what a family is.
All this is to say: This book is PERFECT. It fits all my criteria brilliantly.
This is a picture book about a cat walking through the world with its whiskers, ears and paws… and all the ways that cat is seen. Every page is a beautiful, complex, brilliant portrayal of how different viewers see the cat. The child sees a fluffy friend; the fish sees blurry eyes looking into its bowl; the mouse sees a terrifying monster made of teeth; the flea sees only the individual hairs; the worm sees the vibrations of the cat in the earth around it. It’s a beautiful exploration of how different perspectives affect how we all see the exact same thing. This is a subtle idea brilliantly presented to a pre-reader.
The mouse sees A CAT:
The bee sees A CAT:
I cannot recommend this book enough, in these perilous times especially. Recognizing that others have a different perspective on the same experiences is the very beginning of checking our priviledge.