Striking illustrations and lyrical descriptions will please fans of big cats, but this combination of pictures, fiction and facts may not have quite enough substance to inspire repeat readings or engage general readers.
Morris’ beautiful watercolors are clearly the major draw. Starting with a marmalade house cat and moving through a series of nine wild felines, each double-page spread shows a different kind of cat. Individuals, pairs and parent-child combinations appear in a variety of geographic settings. The central premise, that each scene is a dream of the sleeping house cat, feels a smidge predictable, while the repetitive start to each section of text, “I dream…” begins to pall after the first few pages. Another minor quibble is the confusion that may arise from the cat dreaming of being both what appears to be a mother puma with her three cubs and, a few page turns later, a male lion lazing in the sun. Like the paintings, however, the quality of the text is distinctive enough to overcome these weaknesses. One to three sentences poetically describe setting and actions and in some cases allude to specific situations—for example, the endangered status of the Amur leopard. A final double-page spread offers thumbnail paintings of the different cats with miscellaneous facts appended.
Slight but exquisite, this lovely hybrid will supplement more comprehensive approaches to the topic. (Picture book. 4-7)