August 24, 2015

Is That a Cat? by Tim Hamilton

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:25 am by suebe2

Is That a Cat?
by Tim Hamilton
Holiday House

More than anything, the cat wants another cat to play with.  Looking out the window, the thinks he’s spotted another cat’s tail . . .

. . . but it’s the handle of an elf’s umbrella.  When it begins to rain, they look up only to discover a teary bear crying because he’s lost his boot.  They think they’ve spotted it but . . .

. . . on and on the story goes with one tricky bit after another.  The group grows bigger and bigger as they try to help each other.  In the end, they haven’t found another cat, a boot or any of the other items on their list but they’ve had a great time together and manage to be the solution that one small boy needs to make his birthday special.

My first thought when I read this was that it reminded me of Rick Walton’s Once There was a Bullfrog with it’s verbal and visual tricks revealed in the page turns.

But the illustrations also reminded me of David Shannon’s No David!  

Not that I’m saying Hamilton’s work is derivative.  Lot’s of picture books use the page turn to surprise the reader and picture book readers love the surprises so revealed.  And the artwork is only like Shannon’s in that it isn’t highly polished.  Yes, it looks deceptively like something the young readers could create on their own.  I say deceptively because I once read in an interview how hard this style can be to do convincingly.

These types of illustrations can make the story more accessible to young readers. Hamilton used pen, ink and watercolor finishing it all digitally to create art that is cartoony and fun while also fueling the tricky bits of the story.

Use this book as a jumping off point to discuss creatiavity with your young reader.  If they were to write this story, what would they have done differently?  Instead of a cat tail, what would the cat have seen?  Instead of another elephant, what would the elephant have spotted?  You might even want to have paper and pencil handy so that they can start building their own story complete with tricky page turns.

–SueBE

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