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CATS ARE A LIQUID by Rebecca Donnelly


by Rebecca Donnelly ; illustrated by Misa Saburi

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-20659-6
Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

A group of precocious experimenters demonstrates a tongue-in-cheek science hypothesis that has been popularized on the internet.

Very brief rhyming text fancifully describes the actions of a number of smiling, stylized cats “Cats fill…spill…tip…drip…slop [and] plop.” In sum, “cats are a liquid except when they’re not.” This appears twice as a refrain and then shifts to “A cat’s not a liquid except when it is.” Cartoony illustrations, created in Adobe Photoshop, feature a host of children in white lab coats busily measuring, chasing, cuddling, cleaning up after, and otherwise interacting with a plethora of cats and kittens. Diversity is implied via varied skin tones and clothing choices (one girl wears hijab). Limited background details keep the focus on the cute cats; black outlines and a subdued palette give the pictures an amusingly retro feel. Although the author provides a brief explanation and a citation for the paper that helped to inspire this STEM-oriented picture book, the joke (and the science behind it) may be beyond the grasp of much of the intended audience. The childlike feel of the pictures and rhythmic brevity of the text, on the other hand, may turn off older listeners. A foray into weather comparisons (“Cats are clouds in the atmosphere. Evaporate. Precipitate”) only adds to the confusion. An included activity, making “oobleck,” further explores the qualities of liquids and solids.

A fun experiment but not an entirely successful one.

(author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)