With an irresistible title and protagonist, the story touchingly explores some hard-to-talk-about feelings, including tricky topics like body image and making assumptions about others based on appearance. Pancake initially seems like the luckiest cat ever, but when the other cats (and neighbors) start making rude comments, and he can no longer keep up with his pals, it starts to wear on him. Out of sadness and frustration, he runs away—only to find himself in a dark alley, surrounded by shadowy figures. When he’s startled by a black cat, Pancake learns that not everything is what it seems on the surface: the strange cat has no plans to hurt him, she’s just desperate to find a meal for her kittens. Pancake marches the small family to his home, where he promptly serves them a pancake feast.
Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Buttons welcome the new family with open arms—and full bowls—and the addition of new cats in the house inspires Pancake to try new foods, too (though he sticks with his favorite on the weekends). Lucy Pirogova’s shaded illustrations imbue the story’s animals with human-like expressions, that, when paired with Coleman’s lesson to be kind to others, make this debut relevant for any young readers. This story’s told with a light touch but shares a powerful message.
Takeaway: Pancake-eating cat shows readers what it really means to be a hero.
Comparable Titles: Nikki Rogers’s A Hero Like You, Rachel Bright’s The Lion Inside.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A