Review Blog

May 05 2017

The catawampus cat by Jason Carter Eaton

cover image

Ill. by Gus Gordon. Penguin, 2017. ISBN 9780143785583
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Cats, Animals, Humour, Difference. An out of alignment cat enters the picture. It leans to one side, and strolls crookedly into the town. As it makes its way through the streets it has a powerful effect on those around it. There are people everywhere. Mr Grouse the grocer tries to straighten the cat. He and his wife haven't spoken nicely for years, but in looking at the cat's lean they notice their lost wedding ring under one of the fruit barrows, and all is put right between them. Bob Long the hairdresser is cutting hair. Looking at the lean of the cat causes him to cut the woman's fringe on an angle, but she loves it. A house painter busy at his boring work watches the cat walk by so putting a zigzag stripe of paint across the mayor's house. But he loves it. Many other things happen which the cat initiates from his askew point of view, encouraging the population of the town to see things differently, to do things differently, to take chances. I love the librarian who takes the wrong book off the shelf, one about building a boat, and then takes to the seas.
The population decides that being catawampus is a good way to be, and set about hanging their town to be out of alignment, while the mayor calls the Tuesday that the cat appeared, a special day each year to celebrate.
The humour in the story is replicated and augmented by the hilarious illustrations. The bemused cat appears on every page, sprinkling his magic on the populace, encouraging them to see things differently, while the endpapers show his journey through the town.
A wonderful story to talk about with early readers, touching on the acceptance of change, of looking at things differently, of seeing things from another's perspective.
And I was surprised to learn that catawampus is an actual word, and worth looking up.
Fran Knight

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