The Cat Who Walked Across France
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The Cat Who Walked Across France

5.0 3
by Kate Banks, Georg Hallensleben
     
 

An unforgettable tour of France

The cat and the old woman have lived happily together for many years in the stone house by the sea. But when the old woman dies, the cat is packed up with her belongings and sent north to the village where she was born. Soon he is forgotten. He walks the streets aimlessly until, spurred by memories and a longing to return to the

Overview

An unforgettable tour of France

The cat and the old woman have lived happily together for many years in the stone house by the sea. But when the old woman dies, the cat is packed up with her belongings and sent north to the village where she was born. Soon he is forgotten. He walks the streets aimlessly until, spurred by memories and a longing to return to the place he knows and loves, the cat embarks on a journey to find the home he was taken away from.

In lyrical prose and breathtaking images, Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben take the reader on a journey across the Norman countryside, past ancient ruins, through bustling cities, to the sparkling ports of the Mediterranean Sea and a place the cat can call home.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Hallensleben composes space like Matisse and loads his brush with paint like Van Gogh...Francophiles and cat fanatics will melt at the immensely satisfying conclusion.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Banks and Hallensleben make beautiful books together.” —American Bookseller

“Exquisite.” —Boxed, Booklist

“With the rich palette and thick brushwork of Rouault or Gaugin, Hallensleben magically captures the light of France and the forthright courage of a small gray cat...Beautifully realized.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Hallensleben's drawings, using richly saturated colors, reflect a deeply loving view of France, both countryside and towns, and include landmarks that Francophiles can easily pick out.” —The Horn Book

“Rich in theme and evocative in tone, the cat's quest will resonate with young readers.” —School Library Journal

“This lonely and determined cat, who puts one in mind of Kipling's solitary cat walking down its allée of trees, is a heroine grown-ups are likely to find especially pleasing...Georg Hallensleben's paintings of her trip have at once a poster-paint Fauve simplicity and a Vuillard-melancholy...plaintive and memorable.” —The New York Times Book Review

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
A French feline returns to his home across the country in this gently adventurous tale from the creators of And If the Moon Could Talk and Close Your Eyes.

Basking in the warm glow of Georg Hallensleben's illustrations of France, readers meet a cat who lives by the edge of the sea with his elderly owner. Life is peaceful and sublime, but when the old woman dies, the cat is taken far away to the city and forgotten. Left to fend for himself, the cat takes off for his real home, dreaming of "the softness of the bluegrass that grew behind the stone house by the edge of the sea." France's lush countryside, where the feline rests "on a grassy bank or in the cool shade of an ancient wall," and bustling cities are breathtaking settings for the cat's journey, and when he finally winds up close to home -- he recognizes the area by "boats with their flapping sails" -- the cat enters through the house's blue doors and finally rests. Of course, the old woman is there no more, but a new family has moved in, greeting their visitor with the same tenderness he remembers and making the cat feel right at home.

Mixing high adventure, serene settings, and a pastoral text, Banks and Hallensleben have created a larger-than-life journey back home that, ultimately, leaves you as peaceful as a sunny day along the seashore. Words and colors blend brilliantly to reveal France's beautiful landscapes and the cat's silent progress, providing readers with uncertainty and tenderness that results in a picture book for the strong in spirit and tranquil in taste. This courageous critter's story will have you aching to book your ticket for France tout de suite. Matt Warner

The New York Times
This lonely and determined cat, who puts one in mind of Kipling's solitary cat walking down its allee of trees, is a heroine grown-ups are likely to find especially pleasing for purely visual reasons. Georg Hallensleben's paintings of her trip have at once a poster-paint Fauve simplicity and a Vuillard-like melancholy; his water-blue skies and sad blue moats in the Loire Valley are particularly plaintive and memorable.—Adam Gopnik
Publishers Weekly
In this sympathetic tale, a dislocated gray cat migrates from Rouen to St.-Tropez. (A back-cover map of France shows the traveler's zigzag itinerary.) Originally, the cat lives in southern France with his owner: "The old woman would scratch his ears and stroke his back./ `Good kitty, good kitty.' " But when the woman dies (offstage), the cat and her belongings are sent north. A poignant image shows him sitting on a crate, looking out a window at dank, sandy-blue buildings. He takes to the streets, scrounging for food near the Rouen Cathedral, easing through verdant cow pastures and blending with the concrete grays at the Pont Saint-Michel near Notre-Dame in Paris. He passes over TGV tracks, shelters in the eaves of a cabin near the Alps and rests on a rock by an ancient Roman aqueduct. Yet he never lingers long, driven by "the tangy smell of lemons" or "the taste of the salty air... behind the stone house by the edge of the sea." The team behind And If the Moon Could Talk) tells an "incredible journey" narrative without overstating the drama or sentimentalizing the resolute cat. Hallensleben composes space like Matisse and loads his brush with paint like Van Gogh; his full-bleed spreads feature gorgeous tree-greens and drenching blue skies, and the quiet cat is a small, intense presence in the panoramic settings. Francophiles and cat fanatics will melt at the immensely satisfying conclusion, where the voyager achieves his long-sought contentment with his stone home's new occupants. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
I suppose the purpose of this book is to tell a sweet tale of a traveling cat and take young children on a walking tour of France. However, I choose to believe that the story is true. A cat lives in a lovely house by the sea with his owner, an older woman. When she dies, he is packed up with all of her other possessions and shipped off to her hometown in the north of France. There he is forgotten. No one to rub his head and scratch his ears. So he leaves. He walks past the cathedral in Rouen and south through the countryside. He meanders along the Seine past Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Weeks and months pass as he continues walking, always thinking of the house by the sea where he used to live. He walks by a grand chateau in Chambord. He passes over the Canal de Bourgogne and within sight of Mount Blanc. He passes an old Roman viaduct on his way back to the sea. Finally he reaches St-Tropez and goes back to the house where he used to live with the old woman. He walks right in and finds a place to curl up and go to sleep. When the children who now live in the house come home, they offer him food and scratch his back. He is home again. The artwork is stunning and this author/illustrator team has received many awards. 2004, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Strauss Geroux, Ages 3 to 10.
—Kristin Harris
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Displaced when his elderly mistress dies, a cherished pet makes a long and lonely trip through cities, towns, and the countryside to return to the seaside home he shared with her. "The cat pranced over bridges and bristled at the thundering trains that passed. At dusk he would lick the dirt from his face and paws. In his dreams he could hear the twigs snapping and the crunch of dried leaves as he circled around the stone house by the edge of the sea." Banks's account of the expedition and the longing of the unnamed feline is quiet but descriptive. Occasional dangers such as stray dogs, aggressive children, and city traffic punctuate the animal's plodding trek as he grows thin and tired, doggedly working his way across the country. Hallensleben's double-page scenes, painted in his customary broad strokes and deep palette, convey a warm but also somber sense of each place as the journey progresses. The unidentified French landmarks create a particular geography for the universally satisfying story. A map of the route taken appears on the back of the book jacket. Predictably, the house's new owners offer the feline a warm welcome. How could it be otherwise? Rich in theme and evocative in tone, the cat's quest will resonate with young readers.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With the rich palette and thick brushwork of Rouault or Gauguin, Hallensleben magically captures the light of France and the forthright courage of a small gray cat. The nameless feline lives in a stone house by the sea, but when the old woman who lived in the house dies, he is sent to the north along with all the rest of her possessions. Driven by memories of the salt air and the feel of bluegrass, the cat begins a return journey, through cities and countryside recognizable to anyone who has traveled in France, and deliciously evocative to anyone who hasn't. The cat survives by cunning and the kindness of strangers, and the back cover map precisely tracks his journey from Rouen to St. Tropez. When he returns to the stone house with its blue door and scent of lavender, he walks right into a new family who recognize that he is home. Beautifully realized. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374399689
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/02/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
599,264
Product dimensions:
10.32(w) x 10.27(h) x 0.36(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Author Kate Banks and illustrator Georg Hallensleben have collaborated on several books, including And If the Moon Could Talk, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Baboon, Close Your Eyes, and The Night Worker, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. Banks lives in the South of France with her husband and two sons. Hallensleben lives in Paris.

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The Cat Who Walked Across France 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book arrived just as described..."new"!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who says you can't go home again? Especially when home is a refuge of familiarity, comfort and love. For many years a cat lived with an old woman in a stone house in France. Their house was by the sea so the cat well knew and loved the smell of salt air. At night the cat would curl in the woman's arms and she would pet him. One day the woman died and all her belongings, along with the cat, were packed and shipped north to the place where she was born. However, there was no one to care for the cat. He wandered the streets meowing for food and running from predatory dogs. Enough of this! He decided to go home. Could a cat possibly walk all the way across France to find the home for which he yearned? Suggested for children ages 4 - 8 this is a touching story of perseverance and the comfort of home.