Kitty Knows Best: Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett
Little Matilda is clearly trying to bond with her pet. She's wearing her cat costume so that they can be twins. She's hauled out the requisite ball of yarn, and has a ball herself twisting and flinging it all about for her kitty to chase.
But Matilda's cat is no chubby, sweet-eyed kitty enthralled with chasing a length of wool.
Matilda's cat is a long and lanky marmalade Tom, sharp of snout and ears, and clearly having none of it.
Matilda crosses out her first supposition and moves on to try another idea. Perhaps her cat likes tea parties....
Matilda lays out a rather sumptuous spread for a pretend party--tomato and cuke sandwiches, cupcakes, and a pretty pot of tea. Her cat stares contemptuously at his plate with its single (unpeeled) banana.
Scratch that. Perhaps her tabby prefers some outdoor feats of skill and derring-do. All cats like to climb trees, right? Matilda goes right up the trunk to a nice limb, just right for a girl and her cat to share. The cat is clearly appalled, with ears laid back at the sight.
Wearing funky hats? Matilda looks stunning, but this cat is no cat in the hat. Feathered and fruited, his chapeau covers his entire furry head, and Cat freaks out.
Matilda crosses that one off her list. How about reading story books?
Matilda exchanges her cat costume for purple Yorkie-printed PJs and doggy slippers and hops into bed, patting a place beside her for her cat. But Cat is not pleased with her choice of books (it's Emily Gravett's Dogs, a nice inside joke) and the shadow on the wall is indeed rather wolfish! Cat is horrified! Matilda's pet-pleasing list is a total loser!
MATILDA'S CAT LIKES PLAYING WITH WOOL
Is there no pleasing this finicky feline?
Author Gravett slyly suggests that her list is all things Matilda likes to do, in her latest, Matilda's Cat (Simon & Schuster, 2014). But there is one thing Cat truly likes to do, and in artist Gravett's final page we see him cuddling on top of Matilda's cat-printed blanket, ready to snuggle up for a long winter's sleep with her.
Gravett's pitch-perfect pictures are done in grainy crayon on rough-textured, off-white paper, extending her simple text with drawings which contrast Matilda' determination and her cat's disdain for her chosen activities for them in telling vignettes. Emily Gravett's work has great charm, having deservedly earned her Kate Greenaway Medals (the British version of our Caldecott Awards). As Kirkus Reviews writes in a starred review, "A master of animal countenance, Gravett pairs an expressive cat with a busy kid and winks at the difference between textual and visual message."