A cat embarks on a journey and must figure out where she’s arrived in this debut picture book.
Ándale Puss is a gray, overalls-wearing cat who packs her bag to travel the world. Parachuting into a new location, she’s not quite sure where she’s landed, only that she’s cold in the snowy environment. After encountering a local warthog who kindly serves her borscht (“She dips in her tongue, and then her whole head. / Her kitty cat whiskers are turning bright red!”), some Matryoshka foxes startle her, causing her to flee into a bookstore. There, a sympathetic bear bookseller hands her works by Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky. Later, Ándale Puss sees a sign for “Moskva” and realizes she’s in Russia. The charming feline is an enthusiastic narrator, and debut illustrator Gibbs’ watercolors present her full of energy along with a captivating cast of animals reminiscent in design, if not technique, of Richard Scarry. Handley relates the humorous adventure in accessible and flowing rhyming couplets. The interjections of Russian script, with suggested pronunciations and the English translations below, help readers feel how strange it must be for Ándale Puss to confront foreign phrases while exposing them to the sounds and shapes of another language. Endnotes describe how the author learned that a smile can bridge linguistic and culture gaps and help travelers make friends—a moral that the cat’s escapades wholeheartedly and effectively represent.
Beautiful, kid-friendly images and a charismatic feline narrator should hook young readers in this introduction to Russia.