Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas "Cat" astrophe

Day by day the holidays are approaching.  Plans are being made for cookie baking and meal making.  Thoughts are drifting to gift giving, light stringing, tree decorating and hanging of the greens.

Households are full of festive fun with much to be done.  When you are Fuddles, one of the most coddled cats in creation, it stands to reason you believe all is being done for you and you alone.  Readers who were introduced to this chunky feline in Fuddles (Aladdin, May, 2011) will be delighted with his return in A Very Fuddles Christmas (Aladdin) written and illustrated by Frans Vischer.

Fuddles was a fat, pampered cat.
His family spoiled him endlessly.

When the napping Fuddles is awakened by a tantalizing smell, he naturally follows it to the source.  Greeted by the sight of a table laid with food fit for a king, Fuddles can hardly wait to pounce with pleasure.

"No, Fuddles! That's not for you!"

What!? Not for him?  How can this be true?  No matter...he scurries into the living room to discover wrapped presents, gingerbread treats and lights waiting to be put in place.  Every gesture he makes, every exploratory move, elicits negative exclamations.

When Fuddles beholds the beauty of the decorated tree, he is overwhelmed with desire, a desire to scale that magnificent model of glowing greenery.  Timberrrr....  Uh, oh... In a furry hurry, Fuddles heads out of the room straight to the out-of-doors.

Dumbfounded by all the whiteness, he wonders what happened to the grass, flowers  and leaves.  The temperature is much too chilly for Fuddles' taste.  To his frustration the door is closed and no amount of yowling can get his family's attention.

In an attempt to locate the back door (perhaps it is open) Fuddles meanders around the yard getting colder and hungrier.  When a couple of troublesome squirrels shake a pile of snow on him, that's the last straw.  Hot on their tails, Fuddles goes up...up...and up...right into more trouble.  You can be sure this is one Christmas Fuddles will always remember.

Using his family's cat as inspiration, Frans Vischer writes a narrative as someone who knows how the feline mind works; cat attitude, fears and feats are portrayed in comedic truth.  Fuddles may be pampered, but when he's on the move there's plenty of action.  Descriptive phrases, individual words, paint precise pictures as Fuddles' latest escapade is told.  Here is an example.

Like a pioneer frontiersman, Fuddles bravely faced the elements...
through the bitter cold and biting wind...

Taking a single look at the matching front and back, jacket and cover, you can feel the corners of your mouth curve upward into a big grin.  Tangled in a string of lights, wreath about his neck or popping out of an open Christmas box with the tree topper firmly attached to his head, Fuddles clearly is up to another adventure, a holiday adventure.  Paw prints travel across the verso to the second, primary title page showcasing a contented, smiling Fuddles sitting next to a plate of cookies.

Illustrations created digitally by Frans Vischer, in full color, depict Fuddles in all his feline glory.  With adept ease, Vischer transitions from a full page visual to small vignettes to two page spreads with a layout designed to hold the reader's attention page by page.  The body language and facial expressions on Fuddles are completely giggle inducing; just thinking about his overly plump stomach makes me grin.  I burst out laughing at the first page, Fuddles lying on his purple settee, red pillow under his head, quilt covering his body, cucumber slices over his eyes, assorted desserts on the table next to him, all by a roaring fire in the fireplace.  My favorite illustration is a series of six looks and body positions when Fuddles is clearly in a precarious spot.  I could look at it over and over.

Whether you are a lover of cats, Christmas or both, A Very Fuddles Christmas written and illustrated by Frans Vischer is a title you will want to add to your shelves.  This book delivers the best gift of all, laughter.  Please stop by the links embedded above to access the Fuddles website, Frans Vischer's website and blog, and my review of Fuddles.  By following this link to the publisher's website you can get a glimpse of a couple of interior pages.  UPDATE:  Here is a link to Carter Higgins's blog, Design of the Picture Book, where she highlights this title and interviews Frans Vischer.

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