Quote of the Month

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dreaming Purr-fectly

Is there a single day which passes without making at least one wish?  Oh, the actual words, I wish, may not be thought or uttered but a desire might be felt, a longing might be expressed or a hunger for a special food or drink might be pursued.  We go through our lives filled with hopes, some tiny and others large.

There are those with the same dreams as us.  We may or may not realize this.  Cat Wishes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 24, 2018) written by Calista Brill with illustrations by Kenard Pak is a special blend of practical and impossible.

Once in the windy wood, there was a hungry Cat.

This cat was not picky about what it ate.  Hearing a noise, it slowly moved toward a likely meal.  In a flash a snake was pinned beneath its paws.

It was not surprising the snake asked to be set free.  It was surprising when the snake said he would grant Cat wishes if allowed to leave.  Cat being Cat did not believe in wishes . . . but the snake slithered away.

Still not a believer Cat decided to experiment with one of his three wishes.  He desired fish.  Regardless of a meal of more than one fish and with a full belly, Cat still thought wishes were nonexistent. 

Cat's nap in the sun was cut short by a rain storm.  When the weather turned nasty who wouldn't want a house.  Did Cat, not for minute thinking wishes were real, think about a house?  (Let's continue thinking about a house.)  If Cat had a house, would Cat want to be alone inside it in the dark?  With a brilliant plot twist on wishes, readers along with Cat will know even the smallest sliver of hope can lead to miracles.

With a rhythmic beat supplied by a mix of rhyming words, alliteration, sound effects, narrative and dialogue, author Calista Brill takes us into the world of Cat.  Her use of language has us becoming a cat.  We, like Cat, are torn between not believing, wanting to believe and acceptance.  The repetition of a phrase ties everything together flawlessly.  Here are several passages.

"No such thing as a wish,"
Cat said.  His belly growled.
"But if there were, I'd wish for a fish."


Cat walked on
whisper feet.

When you open the matching dust jacket and book case, the first two things you notice are the image spans left to right, back to front, and it stretches to the edge of both flaps on the jacket.  The muted, pleasing colors are a mix of reality and dreams.  Cat's wishes in the interior are shown in colorful, loosely formed shapes.  To the left, on the back of both the jacket and case, more cloud-like pastel swirls are shown amid the plants.  In the distance, along the top, we can faintly see the windy wood.

On the opening and closing endpapers a pattern of stars and paw prints in alternating vertical rows cover the two pages.  They are a dusty rose on a cream canvas.  The title page features Cat standing sideways looking into the windy wood.  Grass, leaves and plants border the bottom of the page.  Along the left side a large tree truck provides a frame.

Rendered in

watercolor and digital media

the pictures of Kenard Pak in this title span two pages and single pages.  On one of the double page images several elements are used to accentuate pacing.  The smooth, slightly matted paper is perfect for the limited color palette.  Pak may use browns and grays on cream with splashes of only green in the leaves.  This allows the highlighting of wishes, desires and hopes in light shades of blue, red and yellow and mixtures of these three.  Delicate fine lines and smooth brush strokes generate a sense of serenity.

One of my many favorite pictures is on a single page.  Along the bottom are simple lines of grass and weeds.  Cat has lifted up from his nap, looking forlorn on the bottom right.  Lines of rain fall from the darkened area in the upper right corner.  There is absolutely no doubt about the mood or emotional state of Cat.

Readers are going to enjoy this tale of wishes especially with the twist at the end.  Cat Wishes written by Calista Brill with pictures by Kenard Pak will have them ready to wish as often as possible.  It will also have them looking for a silver lining when it appears as if there is none to be found.  They need to remember (We all do.) Cat did let the snake go.  I would pair this title with I Wish You More, The Littlest Gardner, and You Don't Want a Unicorn!  Sure to promote discussions, I recommend this title for both your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Calista Brill and Kenard Pak and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Both Calista and Kenard have Twitter accounts. You can also find Kenard Pak on Instagram and Tumblr.  

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