The Catawampus Cat
Jason Carter Eaton
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Dictionaries define ‘catawampus’ as ‘out of alignment’, ‘crooked’, ‘askew’ ‘awry’… but when the catawampus cat arrived in town early on Tuesday morning nobody really noticed. People went about their busy business as usual until the cat caught the eye of Mr Grouse the grocer who tried to straighten him. To no avail. But when his wife Lydia tilted her head to figure out what was wrong with the cat, her life changed. As did that of the barber’s client who found herself with a unique haircut; the painter whose boring job on the mayor’s house suddenly became a work of art; and Captain Whizzbang set a record he was not even trying to do! Even the town librarian found herself taking a new path and as for Bushy Brows Billiam…
Meanwhile the cat moves nonchalantly on, in contrast to the life of the town with its unceasing traffic and frenetic people all captured in the delightful, detailed illustrations that emphasise the non-stop nature of city life. As the town begins to learn to look at life from a new angle (literally) Mayor Meyer declares Catawampus Cat Day but the catawampus cat has a different idea.
This is a quirky story that illustrates the quirky nature of cats and their ability to ignore, if not disdain, the actions of humans. There is a lot of clever wordplay and graphics that entertain the adult reader but mostly young readers will love the aloofness of the cat and will relate to its ability to be totally engaged on itself, and not be distracted by anything going on around it. At the very least they will love their new word and the way it rolls of the tongue! Charming!