Review Blog

Sep 22 2011

Come down, cat! by Sonya Hartnett

cover image

Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. Penguin. Viking. 2011. ISBN978 0 670 07475 4.
(Ages: 3+) Recommended. Picture book. Just as the sun is setting, and early evening draws near, Nicholas becomes concerned for his cat. She is on the roof of their house, and refuses to come down for the night. No matter what Nicholas says or does, the cat just says, 'Marl', and moves further back onto the roof. The cat, of course, is mercurial and independent, a large white Siamese, with eyes that shine on her owner. The 'Marl' which Hartnett puts into the cat's mouth is just right, reminding generations of cat owners just how their cat sounds. But Nicholas cannot sleep knowing his cat is still on the roof and imagines all sorts of awful things happening to his cat. He finally sleeps but is woken in the night by the sound of rain. He leaps out of bed and climbs the tallest ladder to rescue his cat,  which this time is very willing to leap safely into Nicholas' arms.
A charming story of bravery, the illustrations reflect the two main characters beautifully. Nicholas is in his pyjamas, ready for bed, he climbs the huge ladder, trying to get to the roof of this enormous house to fetch down the cat.
The cat, so tiny for most of the book, cowers on the roof,but when the rain falls her face fills the page with anguish until Nicholas climbs up and she leaps happily into his arms. I love the illustrations, from the Art Deco house, to the owls and bats flying over in the night, to the wonderful sequence of illustrations showing differing perspectives, that of the act on the roof, looking down, or the boy looking up at the cat, or the owl's view of the cat on the roof. All the different perspectives encourage the reader to see things from another's points of view, not just to focus on the boy and what he feels.The discussions about just who is the bravest will keep many readers thinking for a long time after the book is read.
Fran Knight

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