Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
The Southernmost Cat is aimed at 4-8 year olds, but adults who have read The Old Man and the Sea will be totally captivated by it. The story follows Hemingway's loosely. Thinking at the beginning that "Life is good," the Southernmost Cat soon finds himself spending the ninth of his lives being towed around the world by the enormous fish he's trying to catch. When he finally gets back to Key West, Ernesto, for that is his name, begins to tell the story, and begins, "Life is good." A charming homage to Ernest Hemingway. The pictures by Osborn are perfect.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 2Ernesto, a six-toed "cat of the world" who now lives in Key West, is convinced that his past adventures have used up at least eight of his lives. It looks as if he may lose his ninth when a large fish latches onto his line taking him on a whirlwind tour around the rim of the Atlantic Ocean. The fish (actually a whale but always referred to as a fish) releases Ernesto in return for a promise that instead of going fishing, he will write down the stories of his past lives. The recitation of these adventures, which comprises a good deal of the text, does not make for an engaging plot and the parallels to Hemingway's life, writing, and literary acquaintances are coyingly adult and hold little appeal for children. The energetic gouache paintings are more successful at depicting the jaunty cat and his spirited adventures. Utilizing a frame around each scene, the artist artfully depicts the feline's exploits. Particularly striking is his climactic struggle with the whale, portrayed in fragmented cubistic images. Unfortunately, even with the lively art, the story remains uninvolving.Caroline Ward, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY
Off the coast of Key West, Florida, drifting on a sea of memories, floats Ernesto the cat, wetting his line in hopes of a meal. While he awaits a nibble, Ernesto ponders the meaning of his earlier eight lives, which included running with the bulls in Pamplona and eating 471 of Alice B.'s "infamous brownies" in Paris. Then his line snaps straight ("Carumba! It's a big one!") and, towed by the unseen fish, he is taken on an extended tour of the Atlantic. When the fish does surfacean enormous white whalehe offers Ernesto sage advice: "Stay away from fishing. Try writing instead."
Cech (First Snow, Magic Snow, 1992, etc.) acknowledges his homage to Hemingway in a note in the back; even so, children will find this plot governed more by caprice than by compelling story elements. Adults and other "insiders" (readers old enough to have passing familiarity with the references) will find this a clever piece, picaresque in its own right and possibly a springboard for exploring Hemingway's stories. Osborn's vibrant, evocative gouachesin frames featuring cirrus, cumulus, and stratus clouds in a variety of configurationssail right along with the narrative's fanciful tack.