cover image I Am a Cat

I Am a Cat

Galia Bernstein. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2643-9

A stout, green-eyed cat named Simon meets a gang of much larger cats: a lion, cheetah, puma, panther, and tiger. “I am a cat,” announces Simon. “Just like you!” The big cats greet Simon’s announcement with wide-eyed, stony silence. Then—after a page turn—they erupt in guffaws. The lion explains huffily that cats have manes and tails, the cheetah that cats run faster, and so on; each identifies its own features as the essence of catness. Simon’s reply is sharp: “So how can you all be cats?” The lion begins listing features they have in common (“We have sharp teeth and claws”) and the big cats’ tails and claws form graceful arabesques. “So do I,” Simon snaps. “I have all of those things.” The big cats are forced to admit that Simon is right; he is a cat after all. Bernstein’s debut is a fresh, powerful twist on the tension between in-groups and out-groups. The big cats threaten, but her hero shows no signs of compromise or apology. And her spare, clean artwork shares the same sense of certainty. Ages 3–7. Agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, Bright Group. (Feb.)