Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A CAT LIKE THAT by Wendy Wahman

Wahman, Wendy. A Cat Like That. Illustrated by Wendy Wahman. New York: Henry Holt & Co, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8050-8942-4. 

The first-person narrator of this bright and lively book is a cat who speculates about all the traits it would pick (or not pick) in a human best friend: playing games with a paper bag, not dropping it to see if cats land on their feet, etc. The author obviously knows cats intimately—when I got to the page about a best friend who would scratch “Ooh aaah! The base of my tail. Right there!” I could imagine my cat Oogie purring from head to tail-tip.

Besides being good entertainment for any cat-loving child (and what child isn’t?), A Cat Like That is an excellent reminder to preschoolers about how to treat the family pet. Many of the characteristics the narrator would seek in its best friend are actually warnings against negative behavior, stated in a positive way: for example, “My friend would let me hide in my secret place…and dine in peace…” Other remarks emphasize the happiness and attachment a cat shares with its ideal best friend, like sending kisses by blinking eyes.

The nimble drawings look deceptively simple, with whimsical spirals, flowers, and spiky curls—they capture the playful yet respectful relationship of an inquisitive, affectionate human with a cool, whiskery, clawed and furry friend. The poster colors are big on orange, blue, purple and yellow. Altogether, the book attracts both child and adult like a friendly but self-possessed cat looking the reader in the eye, hoping for a better acquaintance.

Alexandra Boyer

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