Black and White Cat, White and Black Dog by Marlaena Shannon

Black and White Cat, White and Black Dog

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In Shannon’s debut children’s book, a cat and dog go from apprehensive cohabitants to best friends.
When a small cat joins the home of a large dog, the two animals are initially suspicious of each other. Shannon’s pastel illustrations, in vibrant hues of lime green, cornflower blue, fire-engine red and tangerine, depict the peaceful home where the animals coexist as they keep watchful eyes on each other. Textured, undulating edged frames contain the simple images to create engaging compositions, and animal paw-prints add decorative flourishes on the pages’ corners. As the title suggests, the white dog with black markings and black cat with white accents are opposites, both in appearance and habits; the dog is loud and energetic, while the cat appears sharp and intimidating. The animals’ relationship changes one day when the dog shows the cat an unexpected kindness. The two soon learn that they share many common interests and become inseparable companions. Although Shannon’s prose isn’t particularly rhythmic, its language is simple and easy for young children to follow. However, the repeated identifications of the animals as “the white and black dog” and “the black and white cat” may prove to be tongue twisters when read aloud. At pivotal points in the story, Shannon pauses the narrative, asking young readers to consider the events: “White and black dog shared her food with black and white cat. What a nice thing to do. Are you surprised?” By engaging in such critical thinking, young readers may better absorb the story’s lessons about compassion and judging others by their characters. Although the unlikely companionship between a cat and a dog isn’t an especially original or exciting theme, the story’s moral is applicable and universally relatable to children. Furthermore, the vivid colors may help keep young eyes engaged.

A creatively illustrated, if often heard, lesson about acceptance and friendship for preschool to kindergarten-aged children.
Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0989773201
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Muse Direct
Program: Kirkus Indie
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