While I immensely enjoyed this graphic novel of Ursula Murray Husted, there is a scene in A Cat Story that is reminiscent of the Lotus Eaters (I believe it is called that and believe it is from the Odyssey) or a “Hell scene” or a “bad trip.” This, to say the least, was a bit disturbing for me. Up to this point, the story had been sweet (a cat is trying to find a special location/home where they (cats) will not be cold or hungry, where it is perfect). Yes, there is some “scary” (the cat has to hide here and there, they are “thrown out” of a house that they thought could be home, and so forth); but until the scene where other cats trap our narrator in the garden, I thought this would be a cute book for cat lovers. Boy did it take a darker turn. And for the most part, that was the only real bump/dark turn.
Yes, I got that where the cat (named Cilla) was looking for was a form of heaven (or in fact heaven) but I was not expecting to see an actual “Hell” image of the cats trying to trap Cilla and Betto (a friend/traveling companion who is also a street cat). Even when Cilla is in the church, the images there were not clear enough to make me think this was anything but appropriate for younger readers. I figured that the message would be home is where you are and home is where your family and/or loved ones are. That is, home is the wherever the perfect place for you is (be it a garden, the fish market, or under a fishing boat). There are talking animals and a human who is a dog and not cat person (nobody is perfect) who gives our heroes a lift to a destination.
While aimed at younger readers, I wouldn’t go much younger than the 10 to 14 range. However, if you think your child would be fine with homeless cats and that one scene, please it honestly can go as young as the 8 and up range. And of course, adults should read as well (especially to make sure it is “okay” for that reader). It is just that one scene that tosses everything out of whack. Or did for me. This might be due to the fact it is by a non-American author (I am not sure honestly) as it does have an old world feeling to the story and the language sounds almost translated (again, honestly I am not sure, but that is the impression I took from it). Otherwise, I liked the minimal text, the innocent voice of Cilla and the oddly not overly crowded but busy images. There could have been more colors, but they keep the somber tone and color is used when needed.