Story by Kate Banks
Art by Lauren Castillo
Published by Foster Books, Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2013
Themes: cat, travel, European cities
Wake up, City Cat. It’s dawn. Watch the day put clothing on in city colors, brown, black, rust, and grey.
A family sets off on a European driving vacation unaware that they have a stowaway – a cunning grey-black cat. Paralleling the family’s tours of eight western European cities, City Cat sneaks off for her own tour, finding her own transport and discovering sites that delight her. The end papers offer a double-paged map of the eight cities (Rome, Marseille, Barcelona, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Munich, Venice). The illustrations show some of the celebrated landmarks and characteristics in each city, and the cat visits each of them. For example, we begin at the Colosseum (though this word isn’t mentioned) with surrounding streets typically used by vespas and fiats. Young readers will learn a bit about the various landmarks through the text, the colorful illustrations, and thumbnail sketches at the back of the book, giving more factual detail about the locations. The text is rhythmic and lyrical and relies on a lot of internal rhyme and repetition of “City Cat”. There is no narrative arc as this is more of a feline travelogue.
Why I like this book:
Because of the length of the text and implicit rather than explicit facts about each location, I think this may be suited to older children. The cat is adorable and children will enjoy following his hitchhiking and city exploration as well as spotting the little boy watching the cat at each location. Lauren’s illustrations truly carry this tale for me. She has magically captured all eight cities which I know quite well! I was interested that she chose not to illustrate any of the famous stray cats in the Colosseum – my guess is not to detract from Cit Cat in any way. The soft-toned, detailed art fills out the gaps in the narrative. City Cat makes a great addition for any home, classroom or library. The book is educational in itself, but especially because Kate Banks includes fun facts about each of the cities that City Cat (and coincidentally!!) the family visits. I do like Bank’s choice to keep the cat a stray and not have the little boy adopt her in the end!
- Have the children draw City Cat at some famous site(s) nearby!
- Pull out the globe and locate the eight cities.
- I have had the pleasure of interviewing both the author and illustrator of this book on Miss Marple’s Musings. Discover more about Kate Banks, here, and more about Lauren Castillo, here.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.