I Am a Cat

Is Simon the small gray cat "just like" the large cats of the jungle: Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Panther and Tiger? The ferocious felines think not. Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Panther and Tiger each roar out their laughter, citing their own personal traits as being the characteristics of the cat family. Lion says, "Cats have a mane and a tuft at the end of their tails, and when they roar everybody trembles for they are the kings of all beasts!" Tiger makes a pronouncement, suggesting the small, gray animal is nothing like the big, strong, orange cat. He easily dismisses Simon with the offhand remark, "You might be some kind of rat, but a cat? I don't think so."

A discussion ensues about similarities and differences, and Simon astutely convinces the other animals that he shares many physical characteristics with them. Once this happens, there's time for "pouncing and prowling, prancing and playing, like cats of all sizes do." There are gentle lessons to be learned here, about animal behavior and traits, about sticking up for oneself and about looking at an argument logically. Debut author/illustrator Galia Bernstein's palette of beiges, browns, grays, black and orange (with occasional interjections of green for eyes and pinks for tongues) gives each animal a distinct personality and invents varied compositional layouts for each two-page spread. Witty language and delightfully bold digital illustrations with hand-painted textures elevate I Am a Cat from a read-once picture book to an experience that children will want to explore multiple times. --Melinda Greenblatt, freelance book reviewer

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