This portrait of a pampered pet uses sly humor and illustrations with an old-fashioned feel to reveal a marmalade cat’s essential feline nature.
Hamweenie, the titular hero of this (not quite) epic adventure, yearns for glory. Pictured in a top hat and cloak, this debonair tomcat imagines himself a magician, the star of a parade (in person and as a large balloon) and a red-carpet habitué. He chafes against the limitations inherent to his current situation, the beloved and cosseted pet of a pony-tailed, freckle-faced little girl, and presents himself as horribly misunderstood and mistreated. Bowman’s illustrations, executed in pen and ink and watercolor, are reminiscent of Edward Gorey, with round-faced, pointy-limbed creatures and decidedly odd touches. They also contradict almost every detail of her brief, deadpan text. While being forced to ride in a baby carriage or take a bath might indeed be considered a fate worse than death from a cat’s point of view, Hamweenie is also shown playing a video game, reclining and reading a magazine while his owner fans him assiduously, and snubbing an extensive, if not especially appealing, feast. While obviously incorporating fantastic elements, Bowman’s words and pictures nonetheless capture perfectly typical feline behavior and the fawning affection felt by many cat owners.
Clever and quirky, cat lovers will approve and understand, though others may be somewhat mystified. (Picture book. 4-7)