? by T.C. Bartlett

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Birds Fly, A Cat Tries
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A cat pursues his dream of flight and succeeds, with a little help from some feathery friends, in another delightfully entertaining picture book from author/illustrator Bartlett.

A deft visual storyteller with a talent for quirky, child-friendly humor, Bartlett has created this gently comical narrative through double- and single-spread illustrations—colored and graphite-style line drawings of appealing characters against expansive white space. And in lieu of words, he relies on an expressive use of question marks and exclamation points. The book begins as a blue, googly-eyed little bird loop-de-loops over the head of a chubby orange tabby. Far from eyeing the bird as a potential meal, the cat admires the bird’s aerial gymnastics (represented throughout the book by a lively dotted line), and he’s clearly struck by a desire to go soaring himself. But how? As the enterprising kitty experiments with various ways he might take flight, the puzzled bird that inspired him watches his efforts and is joined by other curious feathered observers. (Parents might use the humorous birds to encourage young children to get in some counting practice: Bartlett increases and decreases their numbers page by page, from one to five and back again over the course of the tale.) Each of the cat’s ideas—a rickety chair, a bunch of helium balloons and a pair of cardboard wings among them—propels the determined feline to try, try again. The little birds, meanwhile, flit through the pages watching the cat’s doomed-to-fail efforts until, after perching on telephone wires to engage in a noisy confab (rendered as a witty multiplication of question marks and exclamation points), they decide to help the hapless tabby attain his wish. Bartlett, who offers the book’s dedication “For all those who dare to fly,” ends his good-hearted tale with an unexpected visual giggle underscored by one final question mark.

A charming wordless picture book for young children that conveys a message of friendship with a deceptively simple illustrative style, gentle humor and certain well-placed punctuation marks.

Publisher: Over the Edge Studios
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:




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