Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There Are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz

A lift-the-flap book with three playful cats... yay! This picture book from British author/illustrator Viviane Schwarz has some similarities to Melanie Watt's Chester books - the watercolour cats; the tongue-in-cheek humour playing with book as artifact - and it will certainly appeal to Watt's fans, but the best thing is that it is great for very young children. The bright primary colours, simple lines and comic-style word balloons work well together. And then there are the flaps and the partly-cut pages revealing details from the page beyond. It is delightful!

The cats are first uncovered by lifting a blanket-flap. Then, one by one, they wake as their individual flaps are lifted. "Hello. Who are YOU?" asks red Tiny. "Are you NICE?" asks blue Moonpie. "You LOOK nice," says yellow Andre, adding when his flap is turned "and STRONG. Could you turn a whole PAGE?."

I love the way the cats tell young readers exactly what to do. ("There's MORE! Quick, turn another page!") My favourite part is where two cats want to go back. "Let's go back to the yarn!" says Tiny. "Yes. Turn the page back!" says Andre. But Moonpie says, "NO! Keep going THIS way. LOOK! There are CARDBOARD BOXES!" He is pointing to the cut-out bottom right corner of the righthand page, where part of a box can be seen.

At the end, the cats are put to bed ("Night-night") and covered with another blanket-flap. The text on the final endpaper reads, "Did you like the cats? I think they really liked you." I liked this book very much and kids from babyhood upward will too.

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