Monday, February 7, 2011

Review - "Cat Secrets"

Every cat owner, all over the world, will tell you cats have secrets. This is true. They taunt us with their secrets with their tales in the air and their knowing eyes (when they're open). Every morning when I open my eyes, and my cat's eager, hungry face is the first thing I see (usually only inches away), I know what she's thinking. Food, please. But other times her furry little face is full of mystery and I can't fathom what goes through her mind. Moods like this generally involve running pell-mell around the house, attacking great big patches of carpet for no reason and staring out the window, looking for some unseen intruder.
Jef Czekaj has tapped into this great fount of the unknown with Cat Secrets. In it, three adorable felines, including one with glasses, literally hold the book full of trade secrets. But wait! We are warned to stay away if we are not a cat. This means no boys, girls, snakes, dogs or fish, and especially no mice. This book is for cats only, understand? After some conferring amongst themselves, the cats decide that "someone other than a cat may be reading this book". Clearly, this is unacceptable. The cats then test the audience on their cat-ness. Do you meow like a cat? Purr? Can you stretch like a cat? As the cats are busy testing our worthiness, a little mouse sneaks in and makes a few plays for the book of cat secrets. And when the cats set their final test, taking cat naps, they succumb to kitty slumber themselves and the mouse makes away with the book. It remains to be seen how the mouse will open the book, as it is locked, but that's the story for another book.
Books like this are some of my favorite to perform for storytimes. It's a wonderful opportunity for interaction as you ask the kids to meow, to purr, to stretch. Another book with similar commands is the glorious Jan Thomas' Can You Make a Scary Face?. I can't wait to test these cats out on my audience. They will like the motions, but they'll also find the humor in the cats' predicament. I do wish the cats themselves, their faces, were a little more expressive, but the art is bold and colorful, and sure to catch the eye. And if the book levels out a bit towards the end, as our cats are falling asleep, it is understandable. The appearance of the mouse offers a gentle joke at the end, rather than a big guffaw.

Check out the book trailer:

Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
2011, Balzer + Bray
Library copy

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