Do you know your worth?
Villiot and Guilloppé tackle issues of perception and self-respect in this melancholy story of a black cat unaware of his own value. The story of Mephisto follows the titular feline across several seasons. In the beginning, city cat Mephisto believes himself to be “worthless” in both the eyes of the human residents and his own. Stealing away one night, the cat spends the warm months in the countryside, “where the honeysuckle and juniper bushes met, / a piece of heaven that [he’d] been looking for.” In those carefree months away from the hardships of city life, Mephisto finally learns to relax, returning to his original home only when the winter chill became too cold to bear. After his return, Mephisto is welcomed warmly and thus learns of his value to the village as a rat-catching master as the city folk celebrate his importance. Although the story’s tone is somber, it may find an audience among deep-thinking children who ponder the value of everything—themselves included. The illustrations, made of black and white laser-cut-paper, are bold, mirroring the austere tones of the story and the chill of the winter season. This intriguing story may require additional conversation to be fully appreciated, and it leaves many openings for that kind of interaction.
A melancholy conversation-starter. (Picture book. 6-12)