- Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett
Dressed in a ginger cat costume, young Matilda tries to engage her pet cat in a variety of activities to no avail. Despite the narrative insistence that it’s her pet who likes these things (“Matilda’s cat likes playing with wool”), illustrations show the ginger tabby cat cowering at the ball of yarn lobbed at him by Matilda, running in fear from the bike, and watching, nonplussed, as Matilda clambers about in a couple of cardboard boxes. A fed-up Matilda eventually trades her cat suit for pajamas and heads for bed in a huff, but luckily, there is one thing that Matilda’s cat does like: Matilda. The final pages show Matilda and the cat snuggling in bed (followed by the cat savaging Matilda’s dog-shaped slippers). The listlike narrative is carefully and crisply structured, with activities satisfyingly listed in groups of three, save for the final reveal of the cat’s actual desire. Gravett’s simply composed pictures feature a blank white backdrop and keep the focus on the soft-edged but strong figures of the cat and Matilda, who resembles Sendak’s Max both in her furry outfit and clamorous demeanor. The contradiction between the text and the put-upon cat’s comical expressions is the real hoot here, and young pet owners will [End Page 359] particularly relate to Matilda’s desire to have her cat behave according to her whims. This would partner well with the similarly themed Duncan and Dolores by Barbara Samuels (BCCB 3/87) or, for a contrasting portrait of activities favored by felines, with Schwartz’s There Are Cats in This Book (BCCB 12/08).