A deceptively simple book that tackles the short life span of pets.
Interest Level: Pre-K through grade 3; Reading Level: 2.0
5 out of 5 stars
Using mostly black and white line illustrations, Elisha Cooper has crafted a beautiful story that perfectly portrays cats and the joy and meaning they bring to our lives. The story begins with a white cat enjoying life as an only pet. One day a black kitten joins the family, and the big cat shows the kitten what to do — “When to eat, when to drink, where to go, how to be, when to rest.”
Time passes and the reader sees the black kitten grow bigger than the white cat, and then watches as the white cat ages. Cooper does not specifically address that the old cat died, but states that one day he left the house and “didn’t come back.” I think the death of the cat is handled very well. The next page shows the black cat sitting all alone and states, “And that was hard.”
Cooper doesn’t dwell on the death of the pet and friend, but does validate the feelings of sorrow and loss that happen. The story is perfect for young children with pets. They need to understand that our beloved pets do not live as long as humans do and that death and grief are part of life. Cooper provides a book that will not overwhelm young readers, yet he doesn’t whitewash the facts and doesn’t talk down to young children.
The story ends on a happy note as the family gets another kitten and the black cat now assumes the role of “big cat.”
The illustrations manage to be very simple and expressive at the same time. Like the story itself, they balance the line between providing the reader with enough information and not overwhelming the text.
The entire story is very well-done!
Big Cat, Little Cat
by Elisha Cooper
Roaring Book Press, 2017