Review Blog

Sep 03 2015

Remarkably Rexy by Craig Smith

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760113940
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended, Cats, Community, Personality. From the cover kids will identify the personality traits of this seriously self absorbed cat, Rex. He is posturing, proud and very aware of his audience, as he waits for the children in the street to arrive home from school. Although he sees it at his domain, there are other things in the street to disturb his single mindedness. A magpie family warbles in the tree above, the dog next door continues its barking, and then just when the children are about to come home, Pamela the pert Siamese cat appears. She has the sleek arrogant look of these animals, carefully grooming herself and walking as if a ballerina, in stark contrast to the antics of Rex a few pages before. Children will chuckle out loud at the differences between the two, and thrill recognising the behavior of such singular cats.
Craig Smith gives the reader a beautifully detailed suburb, with its gardens and array of fences, trees overhanging the footpaths, glimpses of different styles of houses in the background. Against this wonderfully lush backdrop he gives us Rex, the larger than life cat known by all the neighbourhood as he roams around his territory. His illustrations show us the cat in all his glory, confident, a master of all he surveys, then brought down to earth by Pamela as he feels somewhat jealous. Later scared by the dog he escapes to the tree only to disturb the magpies, and when he falls to the ground landing in a puddle, the children arrive seeing him not quite at his best.
Craig Smith has captured the looks and antics of the cats in this story superbly: both are instantly recognisable, their personalities well delineated in his signature pencil and watercolour drawings. Rex is a delight, reflecting the traits of so many cats familiar to the readers: he struts and poses, grooms himself, watching all the while for the children to return from school, only to have his stage purloined by someone else.
Fran Knight

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