A lost Siamese cat learns about life on an ocean beach and in a tide pool.
Catastrophe the cat has wandered too far from home, ending up alone on a beach. He is befriended by several sea creatures who speak kindly to him. These characters include a sea anemone named Naimonee and a barnacle named Buddy. Dancing crabs and sand dollars join Buddy and pals in a “barnacle band” as they click their shells like castanets. Catastrophe survives being sucked into the tide pool by the undertow, and he is eventually rescued by two brown-skinned children who recognize him from lost-cat posters they have seen in the area. Caldecott Medalist Young’s collage illustrations are intriguing but mysterious, as it is sometimes difficult to identify characters, and the text often feels out of sync with the illustrations. Buddy the barnacle in particular is problematic, as he is a main character but is seldom shown and difficult to spot. Many of the torn-paper collage illustrations of the cat are compelling, and the variety of textures and effects achieved with the combination of different papers is fascinating when perused closely. As explained in an afterword, the fanciful story was developed in partnership with the Seattle Aquarium as an effort to increase empathy for sea life.
A well-intended, unusual, but not entirely successful story bringing sea creatures into focus. (Picture book. 4-9)