Overview

In cut-paper artist Nikki McClure’s latest picture book, a kitten practices the basics of feline behavior over the course of a day. A single word of text per spread teaches readers “how to be a cat”—how to stretch, clean, pounce, feast—while the striking paper cuts illustrate the kitten’s attempts to imitate an adult cat’s mastery of each skill. At times the kitten triumphantly succeeds, and at other times the kitten struggles, in vignettes that range from whimsical to profound....

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Overview

In cut-paper artist Nikki McClure’s latest picture book, a kitten practices the basics of feline behavior over the course of a day. A single word of text per spread teaches readers “how to be a cat”—how to stretch, clean, pounce, feast—while the striking paper cuts illustrate the kitten’s attempts to imitate an adult cat’s mastery of each skill. At times the kitten triumphantly succeeds, and at other times the kitten struggles, in vignettes that range from whimsical to profound.
A celebration of all things feline, How to Be a Cat also tells a universal story of mastering life skills, and of the sometimes tender, sometimes stern relationship between parent and child, teacher and pupil. Cat lovers of all ages will connect to this loving portrayal of a mentor-student relationship.

Praise for How to Be a Cat
STARRED REVIEWS
"Purrrrfect for beginning readers and little artists with an eye for fine cut-paper compositions and craftsmanship."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A delightful picture book in every way. Beginning with the paw-print endpapers, youngsters will know that they are in for an adventure. The simplicity and flow of page design are beautifully done as viewers follow a kitten and his mother as she teaches him basic feline behavior."
School Library Journal, starred review

"McClure's cut-paper spreads can be mesmerizing."
Publishers Weekly

"McClure wonderfully captures the shape and movement of the feline form, and kids will also enjoy pointing out the blue and white butterflies and the black-capped chickadee that also appear on several pages."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Perfect for cat lovers of all ages, the book helps us reconnect with memories of our own jouney of growth and learning."
Cat Fancy

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With their bold black outlines, sinuous curves, and ability to conjure mass out of empty space, McClure’s cut-paper spreads can be mesmerizing. In this simplest of formats—the pages show nothing more than cats being cats, with a single word describing each of their actions—McClure (Apple) is at her best. For “Stretch,” the edge of the page becomes a wall, as the black-on-white-spotted adult and the white-on-black-spotted kitten place their paws on it and push. A periwinkle-blue butterfly, the same color as the words, provides the subtlest accent, alighting on a stair as the two cats descend, the kitten diverted while the adult strides ahead, halfway off the page. Fields of knotted wood grain, a woven doormat, and bowers of leaves provide texture as the cats play hide-and-seek (“Wait”; “Find”), then return home to eat side by side (“Feast”) and curl up together (“Dream”), the butterfly perched on the kitten’s paw. Hours of close attention have gone into this, and hours of close inspection are likely to follow. Ages 2–5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Across the double pages, in cut black paper, a cat demonstrates the title to a kitten. Only a single word, in upper case blue letters, labels each lesson in cat behavior: (how to) stretch, clean, pounce, brave, listen, explore, hunt, tumble, lick, stalk and chase, wait, find, scratch, feast, and dream. Each adventure of the day is clearly demonstrated as we follow cat and kitten finally back home to eat and sleep. A blue butterfly joins them all day, a touch of digital color with the stark black and white. There’s an emotional correctness generated here by the simplest graphic means. For example, the integrated paws and tongues that demonstrate “LICK” are punctuated by the delicate blue butterfly. The lazy lines that fill a double page convincingly express a shared dream. The emotional connection between cat and kitten is clear. White paw prints appear across the rich blue end pages. Note the difference between the jacket and the cover. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz AGERANGE: Ages 3 to 6.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—A delightful picture book in every way. Beginning with the paw-print endpapers, youngsters will know that they are in for an adventure. The simplicity and flow of page design are beautifully done as viewers follow a kitten and his mother as she teaches him basic feline behavior. The first spread shows Mama and her kitten as they stretch, and the direction and pull of their bodies helps children understand the concept perfectly. They then proceed to lick themselves clean, pounce, explore, and hunt. Of course, the kitten thinks hunting means playing with a butterfly. They stalk and chase and it is while they are racing around that the kitten becomes lost. Children will identify immediately with the cowering youngster waiting to be found-which happens on the very next page. Mama and her kitten eat their dinner and finally snuggle up together to dream. The cut-paper illustrations are in black and white with a few strategically placed touches of blue. At once satisfying and fun, this is a book that children will pick up again and again. Pair it with Lois Ehlert's Top Cat (Harcourt, 1998) and Kevin Henkes's Kitten's First Full Moon (Greenwillow, 2004) to reinforce the playfulness of kittens and how they learn to be cats.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A watchful kitten shadows a big cat to learn the fundamentals of feline life. A simple series of double-page spreads introduce kitty-cat basics (CLEAN, POUNCE, LISTEN, LICK, HUNT, CHASE, among others) in capitalized, periwinkle lettering and black-and-white cut-paper illustrations. Two feline foils (one an adult cat that is black with white markings and the other a white kitten with black spots) dominate pages in mesmerizing, bold reliefs. Curvy cat bodies frame borders and cross gutters, creating pleasing puzzles of negative and positive space. While flat and certainly binary, these complex illustrations miraculously evoke the frisky, fluid physicality of feline movement. STRETCH spans both pages from furthest-most left to right, from the tips of tails, across elongated backs, all the way to fully extended paws and claws. Ah, the luxurious pull of flesh and fur! On STALK and CHASE, kitten's body tumbles in duplication, rolling along in fitful pursuit of a blue butterfly (which adds a flicker of color on most pages). Looping lines lasso readers' eyes and leave them swiveling their own hips playfully. Cat keenness comes through too. Kitten's eye twinkles, especially alongside the black, expressionless mask of her mentor. Purrrrfect for beginning readers and little artists with an eye for fine cut-paper compositions and craftsmanship. (Picture book. 1-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613125373
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Nikki McClure is a self-taught cut-paper artist known for her calendar and gift line. She is the author and illustrator of Collect Raindrops; Mama, Is It Summer Yet?; To Market, to Market; and Apple, and the illustrator of All in a Day, written by Cynthia Rylant. She lives in Olympia, Washington. Visit nikkimcclure.com.

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