City Catby Kate Banks
A plucky stray cat takes a Grand Tour in Kate Banks' story of a family on a European vacation. As the family travels from one city to the next, the cat finds its own means--by bus, boat, train, truck, and bike--to tag along on the trip, visiting historic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Cathedral of Notre Dame along the way. Readers will pore over the
A plucky stray cat takes a Grand Tour in Kate Banks' story of a family on a European vacation. As the family travels from one city to the next, the cat finds its own means--by bus, boat, train, truck, and bike--to tag along on the trip, visiting historic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Cathedral of Notre Dame along the way. Readers will pore over the spreads to find where City Cat is hiding in each city, and detailed backmatter explains the history behind the sites in each locale.
Banks’s verse sees some of the great cities of Europe through the travels of an independent black cat. Making her way by cat, boat, bike, and bus, City Cat romps through the Coliseum, nestles under one of Notre Dame’s gargoyles, and pads across the Bridge of Sighs. The scenery described isn’t pinned to a specific location: “City Cat is on the run from the morning mist/ and the baffled sun hidden by the fog./ She squints into a smoky sky/ and sees a tower rising high.” It’s up to Castillo, who illustrated Banks’s That’s Papa’s Way, to supply the missing information, drawing what’s visible in the fog: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. In the absence of a character to know more deeply or a narrative to tie the book together, the meticulously drawn spreads take center stage. Castillo takes no shortcuts, drafting each city’s distinctive architecture in soft, pleasing lines. Though there are parallels with Banks’s The Cat Who Walked Across France, this feline isn’t trying to get home; she’s happy to wander Europe’s plazas and cathedral squares, and to have readers trail along. Ages 3–7. Illustrator’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Nov.)
“Castillo takes no shortcuts, drafting each city's distinctive architecture in soft, pleasing lines. Though there are parallels with Banks's The Cat Who Walked Across France, this feline isn't trying to get home; she's happy to wander Europe's plazas and cathedral squares, and to have readers trail along.” Publishers Weekly
“A black cat serves as European tour guide for child readers in this offering from Banks and Castillo. . . A lovely... feline journey.” Kirkus
PreS-K—City Cat travels through Europe, paralleling a human family's vacation. Rhyming verse follows the stray as she hitches rides and wanders through Italy, France, Spain, England, the Netherlands, and Germany. Flags dot the various spreads, giving clues to the locations, which are further described in the endnotes. Lyrical verse follows an interesting rhyming scheme and incorporates rich vocabulary, and lush illustrations capture the atmosphere of each location with plenty of details to invite close study. Children will enjoy the fanciful adventures of this intrepid feline as she explores rooftops, bridges, and ancient ruins, especially when compared to the rather boring, grounded meanderings of the human tourists. However, not much happens in the story and the connection between the cat and the family is not clear. Overall, this is a pretty book for armchair travelers and cat lovers.—Suzanne Myers Harold, formerly at Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR
A black cat serves as European tour guide for child readers in this offering from Banks and Castillo. The cat and a family of travelers begin in Rome. Outstanding backmatter later tells readers that the famed Coliseum is home to over 200 stray cats that are protected by Roman law. But before reaching the informational paratext, readers follow the cat from one European locale to another, right alongside the family on holiday. The family seems almost superfluous, even intrusive to the cat's adventure. First, the cat stows away in the back of the family's car and ends up in Marseille, and it then goes on to Barcelona and five other destinations before returning to Rome. Banks' graceful writing describes the sites visited through sensory detail, while Castillo's soft, yet detailed art deftly fills in narrative gaps by showing how the cat gets from place to place. Some legs of the journey may seem a bit implausible, and it's quite coincidental that the cat and the family keep turning up in the same places. By book's end, the nod to the child asleep in his bed and the cat "curled up in a statue's arm" nearby feels rather forced. Nevertheless, the art presents a veritable feast for the eyes from page to page, and Banks' narrative is characteristically well-paced and lyrical. A lovely, if unlikely, feline journey. (Picture book. 4-8)
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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- 19 MB
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- Age Range:
- 3 - 7 Years
Meet the Author
Kate Banks is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including the Boston Globe Horn Book award winner And if the Moon Could Talk. She lives in the South of France with her husband and two sons.
Lauren Castillo is the author and/or illustrator of many books for children, including Alfie Runs Away by Ken Cadow. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
A Frances Foster Book
Kate Banks has written many books for children, among them Max’s Words, And If the Moon Could Talk, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and The Night Worker, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She grew up in Maine, where she and her two sisters and brother spent a lot of time outdoors, and where Banks developed an early love of reading. “I especially liked picture books,” she says, “and the way in which words and illustrations could create a whole new world in which sometimes real and other times magical and unexpected things could happen.” Banks attended Wellesley College and received her master's in history at Columbia University. She lived in Rome for eight years but now lives in the South of France with her husband and two sons, Peter Anton and Maximilian.
I grew up in a little blue house near the water, on the North Shore of Long Island, New York. Living around the corner from the beach, I am told I learned to swim well before I began to walk. Most days were spent outdoors, and most weekends spent visiting my relatives that all lived nearby. Raised in an Armenian-Italian, Spanish-Irish family, I was exposed to a potpourri of cultural traditions. We celebrated a patchwork of holidays, foods, and music. I was surrounded by Spanish paintings, patterned walls and tapestries, old Armenian textiles, ornate furniture, beautiful ceramics, and, of course, lots and lots and lots of books—so many rich visuals that helped to expand and mold my visual vocabulary. I looked forward to weekend trips to my grandparents’ houses. Those trips always meant storytelling—storytelling, which stretched my imagination toward the entire world.
When I was five, my parents packed up my younger brother and me and we said goodbye to our little blue house, our beach, and our grandparents, as we headed south to make our new home in the faraway countryside of Maryland. Moving away from the family was hard, but my brother and I found plenty to entertain us. We had big imaginations and were always creating—games, plays, stories, pictures, and settings, we did it all. We discovered a local pool to replace our old beach, and spent the rest of our time exploring, hiking, fishing, photographing, and drawing. My parents encouraged my love for drawing, and kept a stock of sketchbooks to hold my daily doodles and stories.
By the time I entered middle school, drawing was my biggest pasttime. I drew on just about everything—even corners of test papers and handouts, which sometimes got me in trouble with teachers! And it was my high school art teacher, also a freelance illustrator, who introduced me to the world of illustration. He challenged and encouraged my talents, and helped me prepare my application for the Maryland Institute College of Art. Accepted and thrilled, I packed my bags for Baltimore in the fall of 1999.
As an illustration major I studied many different aspects of the field, but it was a children’s book class during my junior year that made very clear which path I would take. The following summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Southern Italy – an invaluable experience that opened my eyes to the world of visual journalism. I spent the entire trip exploring, recording my encounters and locations through drawings in my sketchbook. And I used my final college year to create a children’s book based on my summer abroad. It was that trip and that book which inspired me to apply to the master’s program in Illustration as Visual Essay at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
I moved back to my New York roots in fall 2003, attending the School of Visual Arts while persistently bothering many editors and art directors with portfolio drop-offs and meetings. I graduated in spring 2005 and was offered an internship with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, where I learned a great deal about the publishing industry. Shortly thereafter, I received my first children’s book deal!
I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with wonderful, talented editors who have paired me with equally wonderful, talented authors I’ve admired over the years. It is important for me to be able to relate the stories I illustrate to my own life experiences. I have the most fun incorporating bits and pieces of my own world into my illustrations—an occasional pattern from my grandparents’ wall, an old lamp from my parents’ living room, or a hilarious canine family member. I’ve even had the opportunity to travel back to that little blue house on Long Island, exploring and sketching for a story that takes place by the water!
I am currently illustrating full-time for children’s literature in Brooklyn, New York, and continue to collect inspiration through a visual journal of my own responses to the ethnicities of New York City.
Lauren Castillo is the author-illustrator of many books for young children, including the Caldecott Honor–winning Nana in the City, Melvin and the Boy and The Reader, written by Amy Hest.
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