________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 11 . . . . February 4, 2000

cover Snow Cat.

Maureen Stapleton (Narrator). Sheldon Cohen (Director). Sheldon Cohen, Kenneth Hirsch & Marcy Page (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: The National Film Board of Canada, 1998.
23 min., 2 sec., VHS, $39.95
Order Number: C9198 081.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

*** /4

image This is a beautifully animated film based on the children's story by the late Dayal Kaur Khalsa and adapted by Tim Wynne-Jones. The film is narrated by actress Maureen Stapleton. The story of Snow Cat is presented by a grandmother (Stapleton) who is trying to convince her granddaughter that a seal would not make a good housepet. She creates a tale of a lonely girl who lives in a cabin and who is given a cat made of snow by the North Wind. The girl loses her pet when she takes him inside the cabin and he melts. But she keeps him in her heart because he forms the pond upon which she can skate and geese can swim.

The story by itself is not profound. The plot of a little girl who, for no apparent reason, lives in the forest by herself without further human contact is not terribly believable. The story is overly sentimental, as first the Snow Cat and then the goose leave the girl. What makes it inviting and interesting are Stapleton's voice and the marvelous animations created under the direction of Sheldon Cohen, noted illustrator of Roch Carrier's Hockey Sweater and many other books. The animations, which use a finger-paint technique especially designed for this film, are creative and inspired. The drawings run seamlessly one into the other. The realistic setting of the grandmother's house is contrasted with the black background and flowing lines of her story. The drawings display real depth of thought, as one object turns into another in a dreamlike state. Cohen and his team of animators evoke humour, sympathy and happiness as Stapleton narrates.

Snow Cat would be appropriate to show to young children as a story on its own, or in a classroom setting when discussing grandparents, memories and pets.


Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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