cover image A Cat Named Swan

A Cat Named Swan

Holly Hobbie. Random House, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-553-53744-4

“Then he was alone.” With this abrupt opening sentence, Hobbie (Hansel & Gretel) launches readers and her hero—a solitary, homeless kitten whose family has vanished—on an extraordinary trajectory. After barely surviving life on the streets, the kitten is taken to a shelter and adopted by a family who name him Swan. Everything changes. The once-scruffy Swan turns sleek. He has the run of the house and garden (one particularly memorable image is a close-up of his green eyes, mesmerized by butterflies). He sleeps wherever he wants—a sense of privilege familiar to any cat owner. Loving voices call him Swannie and Swansie, and his habits are affectionately observed (“Aren’t those paws clean?” muses one of his owners. “They must be clean by now”). “After many days had passed,” Hobbie writes, “he knew that the days would continue to come and go in the same way.” With a remarkable combination of restraint and narrative power, Hobbie turns an animal adoption story into something much more: a meditation on the quotidian bliss of unconditional love. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)