Tony Johnston, Author, Wendell Minor, Illustrator , illus. by Wendell Minor. HarperCollins $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-027742-0

As stylish and sleek as cats themselves, this appealing book should capture the attention of feline fanciers young and old. The title does not refer to a question addressed to a cat, but instead poses the question "What is a cat?" The poet, who never mentions the word "cat," offers a lyrical list of the animal's behavior and actions. "It is the Spy/ licking its chin/ waiting all day,/ watching the Fin," for instance, is accompanied by a painting of the back of a gray furry head observing a fish bowl. Like a photographic gift calendar, the book offers a new view of cats with each turn of the page, showing different breeds in various poses with four to eight lines of dense text. Younger children, however, may find the resulting combination of words and pictures occasionally baffling. For instance, the line "It is the Wise./ It is the Foof./ Now it is here./ Now it is poof!" in and of itself is abstract, but the illustration adds to the confusion: a cat on a dock observes the water, as if a fish has just disappeared, thus shifting the pronoun away from the cat to the object the cat observes. Nonetheless, throughout the volume Minor's cats are irresistible and Johnston's compact rhymes often astonishingly apt. Both together capture the essence of the mysterious creature we call cat. All ages. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Show other formats
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-06-027743-7
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-56792-351-3
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.