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MY CAT ISIS by Catherine Austen


by Catherine Austen & illustrated by Virginie Egger

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-413-5
Publisher: Kids Can

Less than the sum of its parts, this effort to educate young listeners about aspects of Egyptian culture while simultaneously celebrating the love of a young boy for his pet never quite comes together. Austen’s text is straightforward. A sentence on the left page describes the goddess Isis’ appearance, role and history, while the right-hand page offers an observation, usually cleverly linked, about the unnamed narrator’s cat. These provide some humor but will be appreciated more by adult readers than children. For example, “Isis and Osiris had a baby who became the sky god, Horus,” is immediately followed by “We had my Isis spayed.” Sophisticated vocabulary and concepts further distance young listeners, who may be confused by the fact that Isis and Osiris are brother and sister and have little context to understand the notion that they “gave people agriculture, law and civilization.” Cleverly designed to resemble scraps of parchment, the illustrations of the goddess are effective and evocative. Cat Isis and her owner don’t fare so well, and the artwork only reinforces the failure of the text Made from a mix of photographs, paper, paintings and pen-and-ink illustrations, textures are intriguing and proportions generally correct, but the glassy eyes give the beloved cat a slightly creepy look, while the boy winds up looking unfortunately like a burn victim. An intriguing effort that misses the mark. (Picture book. 6-8)