Spot, the cat, slinks out an open window and pads through a bustling village, with its concerned owner, a white-skinned child with tousled black hair, trailing behind.
Readers, like the child, scan teeming city scenes with furrowed brows, searching for Spot (homing in on the distinctive “beauty mark” on its flank) amid lively quotidian action. Exhaustively detailed black-and-white ink illustrations make investigating the wordless spreads both a challenge and a joy. Fur, fabric, brickwork, rooftops, blades of grass, kite tassels, hubcaps, and street signs all receive such granular treatment they cohere into richly wrought panoramas. They echo with car horns, bursts of laughter, bird calls, dog barks, fountain burbles, and the reassuring murmur of myriad conversations, quibbles, and songs. Spot streams through the lower latitudes of all this activity, as does the child, who misses spotting the cat time and time again. Hearts drop. Finding the feline is tricky for readers too, as the artist inserts many red herrings. Other cats, dogs, and furry creatures and other spots surface here and there, sending alternating rushes of excitement and urgency.
When child and cat finally reunite, the sweet relief feels immediate and intimate—and all that looking so very much worth it. (Picture book. 3-8)