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CITY CAT by Kate Banks


by Kate Banks ; illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-31321-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A black cat serves as European tour guide for child readers in this offering from Banks and Castillo.

The cat and a family of travelers begin in Rome. Outstanding backmatter later tells readers that the famed Coliseum is home to over 200 stray cats that are protected by Roman law. But before reaching the informational paratext, readers follow the cat from one European locale to another, right alongside the family on holiday. The family seems almost superfluous, even intrusive to the cat’s adventure. First, the cat stows away in the back of the family’s car and ends up in Marseille, and it then goes on to Barcelona and five other destinations before returning to Rome. Banks’ graceful writing describes the sites visited through sensory detail, while Castillo’s soft, yet detailed art deftly fills in narrative gaps by showing how the cat gets from place to place. Some legs of the journey may seem a bit implausible, and it’s quite coincidental that the cat and the family keep turning up in the same places. By book’s end, the nod to the child asleep in his bed and the cat “curled up in a statue’s arm” nearby feels rather forced. Nevertheless, the art presents a veritable feast for the eyes from page to page, and Banks’ narrative is characteristically well-paced and lyrical.

A lovely, if unlikely, feline journey. (Picture book. 4-8)