The Problem With Pierre – review

Written by CK Smouha Illustrated by Suzanna Hubbard

Published by Cicada Books ISBN 978-1-908714-85-5

Review by Derek Brazell

We are all more acutely aware of our home living spaces since our ongoing lockdowns, and the company of people or pets can feel more important to us than ever. So, a fun picture book on two neighbours and one cat has arrived at the right time.

Living next to one another in a brick terrace, Alan and Bertram are friends and neighbours who have contrasting lifestyles (the book’s gutter smartly acts as their dividing wall). Super-neat Bertram loves a minimalist interior, whereas big bearded, flame haired Alan has no interest in a home where everything is in its place. Suzanna Hubbard’s loose, textured illustrations are great at capturing the mess of Alan’s home.

A cat for company is suggested to Bertram, who get the titular Pierre in to live in his smart home. But Pierre is much more comfortable hanging out in Alan’s scruffy interiors, which causes a bit of tension with the neighbours. So Alan offers Bertram some of the cosy objects from his house, including the sofa, to encourage Pierre to hang out in his owner’s home.

That does the job, but Alan misses his homely donations (and Pierre) and comes up with a solution that requires hammers and elbow power. Will knocking the adjoining wall down to make a home for both men and the cat work?

It’s great to see a picture book that focuses on adult friendship (and a cat) – and in our time of enforced distance it’s a lovely, enchantedly illustrated tale.

11th February 2021

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