Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Cats Are Made Of (Picture Book)

Released March 2009

Reviewed by Bob Walch

For example, you'll learn that the Maine Coon is playful and very dexterous and that Ragdoll tends to go completely limp when it is picked up, hence its name. Trust me, this isn't very earthshaking information!

On the other hand, scattered throughout the book are side bars aptly named "Feline Fact" that present some really good stuff about cats. Some of these intriguing tidbits include - The oldest known cat lived for 36 years. Since a cat has no collarbone, it can fit through any opening the size of its head. A cat can usually jump five times the length of its tail.

I find it hard reconciling these "cool" facts with the more mundane, "ho-hum" content in each of the species' core paragraphs.

I am also ambivalent about the author's illustrations, which are way too surrealistic for my liking. Using what appears to be a cut and paste approach technique, Piven combines odd materials to create pictures that are a bit bizarre to say the least.

The "pictured" Maine Coon resembles a squat pumpkin, has two leafs for ears and a small crab is suppose to represent the nose and perhaps the mouth (it's hard to tell!). The cat's eyes are two more small leaves with what appear to be black rocks or jelly beans for pupils. I own a Maine Coon and, trust me, Sammy looks NOTHING like this. No doubt some folks would call this creativity "clever,” but I'm not one of those individuals.

So, what do we do with this book? Although the good barely outweighs the bad, I don't think I would recommend you purchase this picture book. On the other hand, a less critical person (and perhaps a non-cat owner) might be enthralled by the author's unusual illustrations and his approach to the wonderful world of felines. You'll have to decide for yourself, or, better still, take your child to the library or bookstore to look at the book. After paging through the book, your child will let you know if this is worth purchasing.

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