cover image This Story Is Not About a Kitten

This Story Is Not About a Kitten

Randall de Sève, illus. by Carson Ellis. Random House Studio, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-37453-5

If, as the title indicates, this story isn’t about the kitten that appears in its early pages—a black and white feline, with warm orange eyes and a quizzical expression—what is it about? Readers don’t find out until later, but the reveal is worth the wait. In the meantime, incantatory lines pile up, “House that Jack Built”–style, as de Sève (Zola’s Elephant) describes the kitty (“hungry and dirty/ scared and alone”), the dog that hears its mewing beneath a car, the dog’s people who follow, and the neighbors of various ages, body types, and skin tones materializing to help. Pretty soon, everybody’s working to extricate the animal. Using loose, naïf-style gouache and hand-lettered word balloons, Caldecott Honoree Ellis portrays a community united: faces peer around the space under the car, and visually varied hands hold the flaps of the kitten’s box as neighbors, one by one, face the next problem—what to do with the kitten. One voice, a child’s, makes a suggestion (“Could we?”) in this celebration of cooperation and simple kindness that portrays a glad coming-together above all. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent (for de Sève and Ellis): Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.) [/em]