City Cat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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carTitle: City Cat

Story by Kate Banks

Art by Lauren Castillo

Published by Foster Books, Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2013

Ages: 5-8

Themes: cat, travel, European cities

40 pages

Opening Lines: 

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.


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26 Responses to City Cat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Wendy Greenley says:

    I like the idea of making Thursday into Friday! LOL I can’t imagine not seeing the strays at the Coliseum in Rome. That was the highlight of our visit there. My kids thought they were the “tigers” that used to battle. Interested to see this book and how a cat’s POV differs from mine.

  2. I saw this book recently. Now that you’ve reviewed, I realize that it’s perfect for my granddaughter. Excellent review as you convinced me that I need to purchase it. Sounds like there is humor involved.

  3. Joanna Marple says:

    The humor is subtle, Pat, which is Kate’s style, I think, and of course there is humor in the illustrations!

  4. Carrie F says:

    We had this book out recently and really enjoyed it, too. You’re right, it’s sort of different from the typical picture book, but I liked that about it.

  5. Sounds purrfect for an armchair traveler like me! Will check it out.

  6. Rhythm says:

    I really like Ms Banks! Max’s Words is one of my favorite books. I’ve already got this one on my want list. Thanks for the review. and the links to your interviews!!

  7. A feline travelogue is the purrrrfect way to describe this book!
    My DD had me pulling out old photos from Rome to show her the cats that I saw – oh so long ago!

  8. Rosi says:

    This one sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review.

  9. Bet I would have loved this as a kid! I’ll keep a look out for it. I like her books that Hallensleben illustrated too.

  10. This looks like an extremely cute book! 🙂

  11. I read this book this week. It is really cute.

  12. Yes, yes, yes! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book. Thanks for the thorough review.

  13. I love your “draw a city cat in a famous location” activity – I think I might visit one of our local landmarks and draw City Cat there. What a fun book… can’t wait to read it.

  14. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks so much for the info on this book. It sounds like something my grandson might like.

    Thanks also for stopping by my blog for Robyn’s interview It’s great to meet you! 🙂

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