Written and Illustrated by Nikki McClure
Abrams Appleseed, 2013
There are a lot of things you have to learn to do to be a cat. The skillset includes self-cleaning, pouncing, being brave, listening, exploring, hunting, tumbling, licking, stalking, chasing, and sometimes just patiently waiting to see what comes next. Every good cat is also accomplished at scratching, feasting and dreaming. As the book moves through each of these skills, we see an older cat and a younger cat who is learning all of these skills.
I have never owned a cat, but it seems to me that author/illustrator Nikki McClure has captured a lot of the essence of cat-ness in this beautiful book. You can’t really call it a ‘story’ as it has no real plot to follow, which seems to go along with being a cat, too. On the acknowledgements page, Ms. McClure tells the story of Bud, a blind cat who ‘came with the house’ she bought in 2001. Although the neighbors had always fed him and cared for him, Bud became her cat and part of her family. She initially created a calendar with her cut paper illustrations of Bud, but then added in new images of the kitten and enhanced them all with digital color to create this book. It’s a lovely celebration of cats, the things they have in common and the way they learn from each other.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there’s a lot involved in being a cat.