Allison's Book Bag

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat by Simon Philip

Posted on: May 10, 2017

After accepting the opportunity to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat by Simon Philip, I anxiously awaited its arrival. As the owner of three cats, I love to add cat books to my library. When the picture book finally came, the vivid matte illustrations tantalized me as much as the title. I dropped everything to read it. The first half was adorable, but the last half take some surprising twists that leave me unsettled.

The story features a young girl with bright orange hair and colorful dresses. Her first words hooked me: “I have a new cat.” What pet lover doesn’t relate to that experience? Her next revelation is that the cat had shown up hungry on her doorstep. Ah, what cat rescuer doesn’t know that experience? Her next line is equally endearing and true: “She obviously liked the dinner I gave her, because she’s stayed ever since.” Yup, this has happened to more than one animal lover, whether a cat owner or not. Incidentally, the cat is gray with bright eyes and alert ears. Every young reader will be in love! The rest of the first half of the story is about the girl trying to name the cat. Readers will enjoy the chaotic adventures and the vivid matte illustrations. You can decide for yourself if you like the name selected.

Unfortunately, here’s where the story takes an unsettling twist. The cat goes missing, and can’t be found anywhere. Not even in a zoo. But a gorilla is only too happy to follow our heroine home. She in turn is perfectly content for him to become her pet. I know young kids can be fickle, but our heroine is disturbingly nonchalant about this switch in pets. There’s an additional twist, in that the Bureau for Naughty Animals shows up to remove the gorilla. Again, our heroine takes this turn of events in stride. No tears are ever shed over either loss. And then for the third twist—the cat conveniently comes back. The author leaves readers with this strange moral: “Maybe one pet at a time is best for everyone.”

The whimsy style reminds me of tales by Dr. Seuss and the Reys. Even those authors though tended to avoid side lines in the plot. For me, I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat is a one-time read. Younger readers may more heartily embrace the book.

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Fall 2017: Focus on Cats!

All things cats ahead! I will post roundups of cat training books, cat Trap-Neuter-Release books, cat coloring books, and cat cozies. For all other animal lovers, I will also post roundups of dog cozies and zoo books.

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