A mouse who wants to be a cat has a conversation that leads to an unexpected outcome in this delightful picture book by debut author Ray, featuring illustrations by Germano (The German King, 2013).
Young mouse Santi is envious of the farm cats who drink cream, take naps and receive pets from the farmer’s wife. He eagerly wants to take part in these cat activities and be included in the feline community. To that end, he practices doing what cats do: swishing his tail, bathing himself, meowing and ignoring everyone; the last turns out to be a convenient skill when his friends mock him for his behavior. Eventually, he gathers his courage and approaches a real-life cat, hoping to get an introduction to the rest of the farm felines. What happens next will surprise young readers and adults alike in a turn of events that supports the book’s theme that a mouse, cat or kid can become whatever he or she truly wants to be. Ray’s text is spare and approachable, with repetitious phrases (“He would practice strutting across the floor, swishing his tail”; “He would practice taking cat baths”; “He would practice his meows all day and night”) that will be accessible to beginning, independent readers. Santi has an admirable devotion to his dream and a realistic fear that he won’t be accepted by the felines that he admires most. The clever text is elevated to a true delight by Germano’s wonderful, cartoonish images, which look like they wouldn’t be out of place in a Studio Ghibli animated film. Many of the illustrations are spread out across two pages: For example, the opening tableau shows Santi approaching a yarn ball, and his shadow on the wall is that of a cat’s, which sets a perfect tone for the story to come. Germano also deeply captures Santi’s expressions—happiness, longing and fear—in a style that’s full of kid appeal.
A clever picture book with an unexpected punch line that will delight young readers.