Colorful, expressive pictures of cats are accompanied by brief text.
Each double-page spread features a feline portrait. From a swirly green, blue, and yellow cat stretching ecstatically to a cozy, curled-up kitty in warm shades of pink, red, and orange, 20 different cats are featured. The vivid artwork dominates. Bright hues, scribbly lines, and high-contrast backgrounds combine to create pictures that pop, and the relatively large trim size adds to their impact. The accompanying words, unfortunately, fail to match the illustrations’ intensity. They are written in a repeating pattern that includes the title, four lines/phrases, and (usually) a single word as the fifth and final line. Some are convincingly catlike. One cat’s angry diatribe over a thrown-away scratching post and another sly cat’s plan to pin the pet fish’s demise on the dog both seem believable and offer a hint of humor. Others depict situations that feel predictable, preachy, or even confusing: Why does one hearth-loving old cat claim to have 20 lives? Changes in type and font size as well as multiple exclamation points and ellipses are presumably meant to indicate emphasis but make for a too-busy read. The paintings were apparently originally published with poems by five different authors in the book’s original, Dutch edition; Spray’s text is original to this Canadian import.
Arresting illustrations and prosaic observations don’t quite make a coherent whole. (Picture book. 5-9)