Across the desert and the grasslands, through the jungle and over the ocean, Calabash Cat joins with a menagerie of different animals in his quest to find the end of the world. Each of his escorts, a product of his own environment, is convinced that when his world ends, so does the entire world. Calabash Cat learns otherwise, however, when the wise eagle takes him into the sky and shows him a wider view. Told with an economy of words and a simplicity of story characteristic of a folk tale, this story set in West Africa is easy enough for young readers to understand, yet carries a powerful message that older ones will also appreciate. The illustration style is well-suited to the story, using the "calabash" style of engraving from the African country of Chad. A hint of color is provided by a rainbow that threads itself, color by color, through the story, subtly paralleling the circular journey of Calabash Cat. The text is also repeated in Arabic; a gentle reminder of the story's message that the world is a very big place. This is a wonderful read-aloud that will hold up time and again. 2003, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Similar in mood and style to Rumford's Traveling Man (Houghton, 2001), this creative offering is geared to a younger audience. Calabash Cat sets out to discover where the world ends. Each time he thinks that he has found his destination, another animal happens along and takes him farther. Riding a camel, a horse, a tiger, and then a whale, he passes through a desert, grasslands, a jungle, and an ocean. Finally, while perched on an eagle's back, he discovers a world without end. Filled with repetition, the enchanting narrative reads like a folktale. The engaging illustrations are deceptively simple. The animals, drawn with heavy black lines and intricate geometric shapes, are made to look like designs burned into a calabash, an art form that is practiced in Chad. A thick line runs through the spreads like a path, changing color with each of the habitats, and all of the hues are brought together at the end to make a rainbow, a striking effect. Even the type setting helps tell the story. Whenever the cat thinks his journey is over, the text is right justified, making a visual stop, and when he continues on, it is centered. A translation in Arabic script appears with each illustration, and an author's note explains the inspiration for this tale. A wonderful choice for reading aloud, offering much fodder for thought and discussion.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Setting off down a road to find the world's end, a cat not only discovers that it's not what he supposes, but not what anyone he meets-with one final exception-supposes, either. Inspired by a burn-decorated animal carving acquired in Chad, Rumford illustrates this simply related original tale, told both in English and in a Chadian dialect written in Arabic script, with strong-lined ink drawings done in the same animistic style. Carried by a camel, a horse, a tiger, and a whale, each of whom wrongly assures him that he's reached his goal, the cat crosses desert and grassland, jungle and ocean, before at last encountering an eagle to fly him home across a "world without end." On the last spread, the road, previously represented by a sinuous line in the background, combines its changing hues into an arching rainbow, bringing the cat back home with a dramatic burst of color. The author of Traveling Man (2001) and other tales, in which the journey is more meaningful than the destination, will gain a host of younger fans with this feline odyssey. (Picture book. 6-8)
From the Publisher
"A wonderful choice for reading aloud, offering much fodder for thought and discussion." School Library Journal
"In this original tale illustrated with austere elegance... Arabic text parallels the English, adding greatly to the story's message that different parts of the world tend to see things from their own unique perspectives, but that the only way to see clearly is to rise above it all." Horn Book
"The author of 'Traveling Man' and other tales, in which the journey is more meaningful than the destination, will gain a host of younger fans with this feline odyssey." Kirkus Reviews
"A lovely, though message-laden, book with multigenerational appeal." Booklist, ALA