Maya & Cat
Walker Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
On a roof, as wet as a seal, as grey as a puddle, Cat was rumbling, a rumbly purr. Through the window from the warmth of her bedroom, Maya spots Cat and tries to entice her inside, safe from the wet and wild outdoors. But feather boas, pink shoelaces and a pompom on a stick are not what Cat wants. And although a can of sardines placed at the back door brings her hungry tummy down, Cat returns to her perch on the roof, wet and forlorn.
Determined that one of the windows shining its warm light on the bleakness, Maya is determined to find Cat’s home but every door she knocks on is not the one. Until she finds Cat in her bicycle basket as though it is saying, “Let me show you…”
This is a stunning story of a little girl’s determination to help reunite a pet with its owners and the beautiful reward she is offered. The heartache of separation for both humans and pets is a familiar one as anyone with a Facebook feed would know and so it will resonate with so many readers, adult and child alike. The language is poetic, the ink and watercolour illustrations are exquisite with the one where Maya is cycling along the jetty taking me straight back to my 1950s childhood favourites in Edward Ardizzone’s series about Tim. Having seen hundreds of thousands of illustrations over my time as a teacher, one that instantly brings back such warm memories means the book is an instant winner for me! The subtlety of the palette, the blend of colours, the intricacy of the linework, the detail in every illustration not only bring the words to life but offer so much to see as it is read again and again, providing a stark contrast to the bright, bold computer-generated works that our students are so familiar with. This is a series of lessons about visual literacy and the need to look deep within, the purpose of picture books and the connections between text and graphics, author, illustrator and reader all wrapped up in one engaging, enthralling story.
This is more than just a story about a girl and a lost cat – it’s a celebration of words and pictures that is likely to become an enduring childhood memory for many.