Written and Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz
Published by Walker Books ISBN: 978-1-4063-7103-1
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
Imagination is something that we really want to encourage in children. This book shows a young animal exercising this faculty to marvelous effect. Tiny Cat is the star here, drawn with only a few lines, its full character is celebrated across the end papers. This book is about fun, and capitalizes on the curiosity inherent in cats to ensure the tale is engaging and inventive.
The spare layout is perfect – on the left hand pages you have a single word and on the right hand pages you see Tiny Cat adding items to its body to transform into a range of animals. Add a cone for a beak to become Bird, tightly rolled in a rug to become Snake, and a lattice from a ball of wool to become Spider. As the pages progress the left hand side becomes cluttered with Tiny Cat’s cast offs. Could this become a problem for a playful Tiny Cat?
The illustrations are constructed of two colours, a pale blue and smoky grey with black for text and outlines, this simplicity adds to the exuberance on display. Schwarz is having fun, and her skill with a brush and composition marks this book out as an excellent offering for early readers. This is a great follow up to her previous book Counting with Tiny Cat.
In this narrative Schwarz locates something that we may have forgotten as we grew older and more cynical. She reminds of our vitality, with a character that is charming and cheeky in equal measure. I’m sure that children will want to draw their own Tiny Cat and perhaps with their imaginations engaged invent a few friends to join in with all the excitement.
I can imagine children wanting to be Tiny Cat by following its example. Dressing up and pretending to be an animal, a superhero or a doctor is vital to a child’s development as this gives them the means to create the world in their own image and build their confidence. I’m sure that Schwarz knows this. Tiny Cat is motivated by sheer joy and its antics are to be enjoyed with without reservations.