Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cat on the Go: City Cat by Kate Banks

Wake up, City Cat. It's dawn....

City Cat heads for the street.

City Cat scales rugged walls.

She romps through ruins set in stone and cuddles in a hidden place where she won't be found.

As a family loads their car for a sightseeing vacation through Europe, their cat appears to take French leave herself, strolling down the street in the way cats do, vanishing while her family is busy tying luggage on top of their car.

City Cat has her own itinerary, one which gives her time to hang out with the notorious cats of Rome's Coliseum and explore the ruins, blending in with the resident felines while tourists snap photos all around.

Hitching a ride with unsuspecting travelers in a red car, City moves on to Marseilles and Barcelona, and takes a river barge as it meanders into Paris.
Floating, boating.... Where are you drifting, City Cat?

This cat waltzes by the street cafes and surveys the rooftops of Paris from her perch on a gargoyle among the spires of Notre Dame and then crosses the Channel to study Big Ben, London Bridge, and the Beefeaters at Buckingham Palace.
City Cat is on the run
from the morning mist
and the baffled sun hidden by the fog.
She squints into a smoky sky
and sees a tower rising high.

From London she stows away on a packet to the Netherlands, where she takes in the sights from a canal boat bound for Munich, the site of a merry family wedding, and floats down the canals of Venice, just in time to be reunited with her family, homeward bound.

Tired, City Cat naps in the car atop a well-used city map, and when she wakes...
It's home again!

Cat owners whose pets have disappeared and reappeared later, none the worse for wear, often wonder where they have been and what they must have done during the self-sponsored sabbaticals. Kate Banks' latest, City Cat (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2013), features a carefree, footloose feline who visits the iconic sites of the Grand Tour on her own, finding a novel cat's-eye view of those famous tourist scenes.

Banks' narrative is lovely and lyrical, ending cozily with the cat and her boy in his own bed, dreaming their own dreams of their wanderings. Lauren Castillo's illustrations, done in rough-textured charcoal line and precise but charming detail with splashes of warm shades of color, make the sights of Europe both familiar and unique. Castillo's illustrations offer added fun by providing occasional glimpses of the cat's family on their more structured parallel tour of the same sites, with the cat keeping just out of their sight. Back matter offers thumbnail sketches and information about each of the places through which City Cat has padded during her travels, with a map of western Europe to document her trek for the geographically minded

Pair this one with Banks' companion book, The Cat Who Walked Across France, a sweet story of a cat who knows that there's no place like home.



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