Review of the Week

The Cat with the Seven NamesJohnston, Tony.  The Cat With Seven Names.  Christine Davenier, Illus. Pic. Bk.  Charlesbridge, 2013. [32]p. $16.95. 978-1-58089-381-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-2.

Is the lovable neighborhood cat Stuart Little, Mouse, Mooch, Dove, Placido, Kitty-boy—or someone else? Johnston’s warm depiction of a diverse city neighborhood captures the voices and domestic arrangements of a variety of people on a street where one lucky cat has multiple guardians, all unrecognized by the others. Each person’s story is told in the first person in just 2-4 pages of text that deftly captures a life and the niche into which the cat will fit snugly. The denouement brings a new possibility of renewed community spirit, and the author’s switch from narrative text to dialogue in thought balloons brings a nice freshening of the pace. Davenier’s ink and colored pencil illustrations in softly warm colors with bursts of recurring yellows are full of casual, friendly energy, rounded shapes, and lively expressions. While longtime librarians will recall finding the situation in earlier titles, the author’s appreciation for an urban setting and its very varied inhabitants sets this apart. Young readers will enjoy the story, appreciate the sturdy cat, and delight in the realistic drama of the ending.

Elizabeth Overmyer, Independent

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