In Casey’s debut, a picture book for a preschool and kindergarten audience, playtime for a little girl and her beloved cat changes when school starts.
In the first of a planned series of six, Nicole, a little white girl, is overjoyed to receive a tiny orange kitten named Leo for her sixth birthday. On the next page of text (in a too-sudden time shift), it’s nearly a year later, and Nicole and Leo have had lots “of kitty and little girl fun together.” Soon Nicole and her mom leave the house, and a confused Leo follows them to a bus stop. Where is his beloved friend going on the “big yellow it” without him? Leo (and readers) learns that Nicole is going to school, and Leo will be part of her new adventure in the next book, Show & Tell? at School!! (No publication date given.) The narrative’s happy ending, however, intended as a teaser for the next book, feels as if the author simply stopped writing midscene. This and the too-abrupt narrative transitions are worth fixing. The text, for example, centered on full-bleed, solid blocks of color, is clear and well-spaced for independent readers or the read-along set. The charming full-page illustrations reflect the author’s verbal depiction of a loving family’s treatment of a treasured pet—Nicole “gently” handles Leo after his birth—and of school as a positive experience.
Could easily reach its charming potential with smoother narrative transitions.