A Cat Story

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Oct. 2020. 192p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780062932051; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780062932044.
Gr 4-7–In the Maltese capital of Valletta, a young cat named Cilla longs for a life beyond sleeping at the docks and stealing fish. After hearing the story of the mythical “quiet garden,” wide-eyed Cilla drags her friend Betto along to find out more about the location of the old door—an entry that will take them to a home where cats are always welcome and well fed. A meeting with wizened church cat Old Paolo sends the two friends on an adventure across land and sea to the island of Gozo. Though they encounter physical and philosophical curveballs on their journey, Cilla and Betto are committed to discovering their ultimate home. Inspired by a past trip to Malta, Husted delivers a thought-provoking exploration of the power of storytelling wrapped up in a charming cat package. Naive, determined Cilla and cynical Betto are a complementary duo who remain loyal to each other despite differing outlooks. Their quest runs parallel with a contemplative thread examining the truth and perspective of stories. Readers will enjoy the visual storytelling that occurs when animals break out of panels to walk through a variety of art and paintings. Colorful, detailed, occasionally busy backgrounds immerse readers in the Malta setting. An extended final note includes all of the featured illustrations, many of which are from or about Malta.
VERDICT Sure to spur discussion on how we envision and interpret stories.

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