Award-winning author and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay, best known for her Stella and Sam books, brings us an endearing character in Caramba, a sweet, shy cat who bravely accepts that he is different, and then discovers his own special talent. Caramba is a fat, furry, striped cat with a big problem. Every single cat in the world can fly, he sighs, except me! Caramba would love to swoop and glide between the clouds, to feel the wind whistling through his fur. He tries to soar into the sky over and over again but ...
Award-winning author and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay, best known for her Stella and Sam books, brings us an endearing character in Caramba, a sweet, shy cat who bravely accepts that he is different, and then discovers his own special talent. Caramba is a fat, furry, striped cat with a big problem. Every single cat in the world can fly, he sighs, except me! Caramba would love to swoop and glide between the clouds, to feel the wind whistling through his fur. He tries to soar into the sky over and over again but always lands flat on his face, until finally he sadly accepts that he is earthbound. Don't be such a scaredy-cat, cry his cousins. All cats are meant to fly! They grab his paws and whisk him up into the sky for an impromptu flying lesson that ends with a big splash and a surprising discovery.
What if it were perfectly normal for cats to fly-what if they could actually "leap off the cliffs and soar over the ocean... swoop and glide and skim the waves"? Then how would it feel to be the only cat who couldn't fly? That's the leap of faith Gay (the Stella series) asks readers to make, as she delivers her time-proven message: it's okay to be different. The eponymous, non-flying hero is a charmingly self-deprecating cutie. Poor Caramba tries to fly like other cats, and just as vainly tries to cover up his failures ("I'm looking for caterpillars," he tells his best friend, a pig named Portia, when she finds him lying face down on the ground). Then one day Caramba's cousins grab Caramba by the paws and bear him aloft, enabling him to "see forever." But it takes an accidental dunking for Caramba to discover his uniqueness (he can swim). The tale may seem overlong to make its point, but youngsters will likely be willing to go along for the ride because of Gay's dreamy, gossamer watercolors, which are beguiling from beginning to end. Her flying cats are not endowed with wings; rather, they fly simply by virtue of stretching out their arms in a kind of airborne ecstasy, their sinuous tails trailing behind them as they float above the white-capped, bottle-green sea. Ages 2-5. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Caramba may look like other cats but Caramba is different. Unlike other cats in the world, Caramba cannot fly. It is not that he has not tried. He has tried and failed, falling off a rock and then a chair in practice. He is teased by other cats until two cousins, Bijou and Bug, lift him into the air and show him how wonderful the world is from the air. When they let him go, over the ocean, they think he can fly. But Caramba lands in the ocean "like a stone." The unexpected fall into the ocean, though, shows Caramba what he can do—swim as if he were flying. When the other cats say cats can't swim, he replies "Well, I can." Droll illustrations in watercolor, blending imagination and realism, are delightful in this encouraging but predictable tale of the individual who marches to the beat of a different drummer. The award-winning author/illustrator of the well-known Good Morning, Sam and Good Night, Sam has also been nominated for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. 2005, Groundwood Books, Ages 4 to 8.
—Valerie O. Patterson
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Caramba is ashamed that he cannot fly like the other cats. Confiding in his flightless friend Portia the pig, he practices flying in secret. He lands in some comical predicaments but remains frustrated and grounded. When his cousins try teaching him to get airborne by carrying him over the ocean and letting go, a scary fall to the bottom teaches Caramba that even though he can't perform like they do, he can do something they cannot. He can swim. Gay's characteristic gentle and funny watercolor illustrations make the story more appealing and the characters more alive. Once kids accept the flying cats, they will enjoy this subtle fantasy with its themes of self-esteem and individuality.-Julie Roach, Watertown Free Public Library, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A wry twist of the adage, "If pigs could fly" and the axiom, "Be true to yourself." Caramba looks like any other cat but he is different-he can't fly! Taunted by the other cats, his many attempts all fail so he gives up, wondering what is wrong with him. One day his cousins Bijou and Bug give him a flying lesson by holding his paws between them as they fly, and Caramba experiences the thrill of soaring in the air. "Don't be a scaredy cat," they cry as they let go, and Caramba flies-straight down into the ocean where he glides through the water, which feels just like flying: Caramba could swim! Airy, wavy watercolor, pencil and pastel illustrations blithely detail the trouser- or dress-wearing cats. Gay's fluid lines and style, similar to her Sam and Stella books, are what make the quirky story appealing. Adults may wonder why the cat is named Caramba-there's seemingly no rhyme or reason-but kids won't care; they'll enjoy his flight of discovery. (Picture book. 4-7)
Marie-Louise Gay is a world-renowned author and illustrator of children's books. She has won many prestigious awards, including the Governor General's Award, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her books have been translated into more than fifteen languages and are loved by children all over the world. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.