Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper


There was a cat who lived alone.
Until the day a new cat came . . .
And so a story of friendship begins, following two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.

A sweet introduction to the circle of life, and how love and friendship continue throughout. 

Saying goodbye to pets is tough. Different children (and adults!) respond in different ways. Some need to talk things through, while others prefer to reflect alone. With spare prose and simple black and white pictures on each page making this suitable for very beginning readers, parents may choose to read it together or let their child explore it alone for a bit. 

The death of the big cat is parsed as, "he had to go...and he didn't come back." The black cat is watching a bird fly away from a feeder, and then he is seen alone. The next pages have him alone, then with the family in silhouette, with the text, "And that was hard. For everyone." So many emotions and thoughts in just six words! 

Fortunately, it is followed by, "Until the day a new cat came," and the cycle of friendship and caring begins again. If you find yourself dealing with the death of a person rather than a pet, you can use this to talk about what you have learned from that person, and how you can pass it on to others.

A great book to have on hand for similar situations, but not so fixated on the loss of the first cat that it can't be read at any time, simply as a story of friendship.

*NOTE: This title has been nominated for the Cybils Award, and I am a first round panelist. There are many nominations and six other judges. My opinions should not be construed as a sign of inclusion or exclusion on the final short list.

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