CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 21. . . .February 1, 2013
Jocelyn Reekie's Kittens and Stars and Cats Who Meet Czars is a beautifully illustrated counting book designed for preschool children. The central characters are cats and kittens that appear in increasing numbers on each successive page.
The counting is highly original and full of humour moving from one cat in a belfry ringing a bell to 10 cats who travel to meet three old-fashioned czars. In between, the reader see cats on a high barre above five posed ballerinas as well as seven cats in the kitchen accompanied by a single rooster. The introduction of unique ideas and the pairing of almost peculiar concepts is a refreshing change from more traditional counting books, particularly for adults as they interact with young children in various settings.
Reeke has created watercolour illustrations that are full of life and wonderful detailing, cleverly showcasing cats and kittens in various forms of naughtiness/mischief. Once again, the reader sees cats popping out of pieces of licorice, each piece individualized to great effect, and on an another page, five black and white cats with different coloured markings in their fur staring up at a bowl of multi-coloured fish. The illustrations work well in tandem with the text and are highly visible against the stark white background. The outcome is eye-catching, and there is a definite suggestion of style and artistry.
My immediate concern is the level of comprehension a child in the proposed age group would have for words such as "belfry", "czar", or "licorice cats". However, the educational importance in terms of the introduction of words, concepts, and the use of language in general is still of great value. It is likely this exceedingly creative book would become more appropriate and appealing to children as they reach the upper age range as they would have a greater understanding and appreciation for all of the features this book has to offer.
Harriet Minuk is a librarian at Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.