Maya and Cat by Caroline Magerl

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781921977282
(Ages: 4+) Highly Recommended. Themes: Cats. Friendship. Refugees. Homelessness. This beautifully presented story of reciprocal love and friendship will resonate with readers as they see Maya struggling to take a cat back to its rightful home.
On a wet and windy night, Maya spies the cat sitting on the roof opposite her house. It is very wet and bedraggled, and nothing she can do to attracts its attention works. She flutters her boa at it, throws out her pompom on string and even her pink shoelaces. But when she opens a can of fish and floats it off in the rain, the cat eagerly eats it up. Maya then leads the cat around a number of houses in her suburb, and although she stops at some interesting places, she cannot find its owner. But placed in the basket on her bike, she leads Maya back home, where a surprise waits in store.
This compassionate story of the love between a child and a stray cat, of Maya looking out for a lost animal she spies on the roof, of going to some lengths to help it back home, will speak volumes to children as they may look further at the plight of many lost people around the world, waiting for someone to care.
The brilliant watercolour illustrations depicting an array of cats throughout the story but particularly on the endpapers, will delight and enthrall all readers as they pore over the pages. The wet and wintry conditions add a deeper level of concern and urgency to Maya's quest. What she finds at the end of the pier is simply charming, and readers will inspect the house and its occupants with glee.
Australian freelance illustrator, Magerl has illustrated stories for others, and Maya and cat, both written and illustrated by her is a wonderful nuanced story full of levels of meaning for readers to ponder.
The illustrations are designed to draw the reader into the reality of the weather and its effects, the swirling leaves, the driving rain, the tossing seas making each page sing with movement.
Fran Knight