Review of A Cat Story

A Cat Story
by Ursula Murray Husted; illus. by the author 
Primary, Intermediate    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    192 pp.    g
10/20    978-0-06-293205-1    $22.99 
Paper ed.  978-0-06-293204-4    $12.99 
e-book ed.  978-0-06-293206-8    $10.99 

This graphic novel, set on the island of Malta, is the story of stray cats who spend their days wandering the wet docks and eating fish scraps to survive. Cilla, longing for a more stable home, declares she will search for the mythical “quiet garden,” which stems from a legendary kitten story; here live humans “with kind eyes who never step on our tails” and who welcome all cats. Cilla’s friend Betto dismisses the story as “silly” but joins Cilla so that she doesn’t have to travel alone. Their journey is perilous, and they meet curious characters along the way, including a feline who speaks in riddles and a herd of cats who essentially try to imprison them. Cilla is initially disappointed in what she learns about the garden but eventually realizes that “there is a measure of truth in all good stories.” The tales the creatures hear on their journey are told through re-creations of classic art (noted in the book’s back matter) by Renoir, da Vinci, Zhu Ling, and Randolph Caldecott. Husted has a loose, energetic line that reflects both the cats’ graceful movements and their tough lives of scrimping. She captures the Maltese landscape with detail and a scrappy elegance. An enjoyable story, especially for cat-lovers, about how home is where you make it.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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