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Sarah Sommer
My Cat Is Blue
Sarah Sommer, author

Picture Book; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

When someone you love is feeling down in the dumps, you try everything to help. But sometimes, you don't have the cure, and those blues can even become contagious. It just might be the unexpected that allows you both to shed your blues and move toward a bright and colorful future.
One day a little girl notices that her previously playful cat has suddenly become listless and uninterested in doing the things he used to do. My Cat Is Blue, Sommer’s (The Goose on the Roof) evocative tribute to the loss of a pet, features not only Sommer’s signature rhyming prose but also well-considered and beautiful digital illustrations that help to tell the touching story: The cat, the narrator learns, is blue because of its loneliness after the death of the family dog. Younger readers will be able to “read” the story solely through the illustrations of the cat, watching him transform from blue all the way back to full color. Full of heart and compassion, the book successfully shows the traits of grief, feline or otherwise, giving kids a framework for their feelings.

Sommer’s rhyming can edge toward the gimmicky, with some forced pairings that don’t actually rhyme (“checkup/close-up,” “family/actually”). While rhyme is often employed in picture books to help smooth out reading, inviting readers to feel it’s easy to falter and stumble on those awkward pairings, possibly diminishing reader engagement. The choice to have the story focused on the cat’s emotions after a loss, rather than the human narrator’s, is interesting and unique, perhaps operating on the assumption that the feelings of animals will register more with young readers.

Focusing the story on the cat, however, still allows opportunity to look at the entire family’s grieving process (everyone slowly turns blue, too). This emphasizes that loss and healing both are often shared, a topic worth discussing. Ultimately a heartfelt tribute to the furry friends we lose along the way, My Cat Is Blue offers children an opportunity to identify what sadness can look like in pets, adults, and themselves and how we always move forward with happier days in mind.

Takeaway: Readers young and old will be moved by the rhyming prose and evocative digital illustrations as a cat and family grieves.

Great for fans of: Todd Barr’s The Goodbye Book, Judith Viorst and Erik Blegvad’s The Tenth Good Thing About Barney.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A