________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 04 . . . . September 24, 2010


Kitten's Autumn.

Eugenie Fernandes.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2010.
24 pp., hardcover, $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-341-1.

Subject Headings:
Kittens -Juvenile fiction.
Animal -Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 1-6.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4


Leaves tumble,
Kitten mews.
Porcupine snacks,
Chipmunk chews.

Hummingbird sips,
Caterpillar munches.
Rabbit nibbles,
Squirrel crunches.

Orange is definitely the dominant colour in this delightful book about autumn by Eugenie Fernandes. The cover is basically a deep orange; orange pumpkins lie in the fields; falling leaves range in colour from deep yellow to golden bronze; and even Kitten has splotchy black and white fur on an orange background. The whole book glows with the abundance of fall. The Persians are from .....

internal art     Kitten not only "mews", as in the excerpt above; but she also wanders, and what she sees is all the creatures of a Canadian countryside eating as much as they can in preparation for the cold that they know is coming. The fact that porcupine's "snack" is an abandoned running shoe is perfectly plausible to anyone who has had a sweat-flavoured paddle handle reduced to splinters by one of these prickly beasts. In the background on each page we see Kitten; sometimes it is her face peering out from behind a log, sometimes just her tail as it disappears under a leafy bush. She is always watching, watching, watching as the animals chomp, munch, and slurp their respective ways towards winter.

     Each picture has a lot of extra animals and other items of interest besides those named in the simple text, and they would be fun to talk about when reading to a young child. As well, the wide variety of words that describe the act of putting food in the mouth is both intriguing and enriching. Never again will one be constrained to say, "Eat your carrots, dear"!

     Kitten's Autumn is a deceptively simple book. The illustrations, done in "self-hardening clay, acrylic paint and mixed-media collage" (verso of the title page), are bold in colour and uncluttered in outline, but retain many tell-tale autumnal details. The bird's nest on the first page, for example, is abandoned, empty of eggs and fledglings. The caterpillar, which one would normally associate with the spring, shows by his black-and-orange stripes--an echo of Kitten's tail!--that he is a woolly bear, one of the few that winter over in that form. The milkweed pods have burst, and their seeds are floating in the air. In the end, Kitten returns home to find her own bowl of food set in front of a blazing fire, and, satisfyingly, "Kitten eats."

     On a personal note, I am happy to see a book as engaging as this one populated by everyday animals, many of which we can see in our city gardens and parks (well, maybe not bears!). It is sad to read a story to a group of young students and find that, while they can accurately name camels, tigers, and giraffes, they are ignorant of muskrats, chipmunks, skunks, cariboo, and other indigenous species. Good for Ms Fernanades, say I!

Highly Recommended.

Mary Thomas lives and works in Winnipeg, MB, but she has frequently heard a raccoon scrabbling up the side of her log cabin in southern Ontario, followed by his heavy-footed tramplings across its roof.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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