In his back-flap bio, Kevan Atteberry (Puddles; Tickle Monster) insists he "doesn't really like them"--cats, he's talking about. And yet, he's written and illustrated a heartfelt homage to enduring feline love. (And I'm not crying, you are!)
"There is a ghost in my house," a little boy explains. "I think it's a cat. I know because I used to have one." Above the piano are framed photos memorializing the cat-and-boy bond, capturing wide grins of mutual cheek-to-cheek delight. As the boy goes about his day, he sees "a dash from the left, or a dart from the right," yet no matter how closely he pays attention, "It's always gone before I can really see it." Even during the night, "I feel its weight, its warmth, its purring. When I look, it's gone." When morning comes, once again he chases the specter throughout the house and "finally, [he] saw it. And followed it." He watches his old friend leap away... then opens the front door to find the perfect surprise.
On every page, Atteberry poignantly recognizes a child's deep sense of loss. The boy has toys, books, music, a comical pet fish, yet Atteberry never shows more than wide-open eyes and a little nubby nose on his face, seemingly suggesting dampened reactions: the child still mourns. The first smile appears only in a photo from the past--and doesn't return until book's end, when the opening "There is a ghost in my house" gets revised to "There is a ghost in our house." A beloved pet never truly disappears, but joy with a new pet is possible, too. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon