The Truth about Max

Enchanted Lion. Jul. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781592703753.
Gr 1-4–Readers who have had a cat, or know a cat, or tried to befriend a cat, probably know that cats are complicated. This book doesn’t shy away from that, but embraces the complexity of cats: They can be hunters and friends, messy and clean, dangerous and kind. Illustrated linework, with watercolors painted in warm tones, makes the book feel like a loving and honest story rather than a scary or cute one. The text is set in a handwritten style, which may prove tough for some early readers to decipher, but it does make the book look more like a diary written and illustrated by a real person, adding, perhaps, to the “truth” message the story aims for. This is a good fit for rural libraries, too, where young readers might be familiar with the truth about farm cats, showcasing for them how their everyday world can be beautiful—even if it’s kind of messy, like Max.
VERDICT A book for any collection where the Provensens are popular, or where “taken-from-real-life” snapshots do well.

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