Review: Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
On a purely technical level every book engages the reader, right? The act of reading or listening demands at least a small amount of participation. Then you run into a book like Cat Secrets, which shows the heights to which engaging can go, as it pulls kids into its participatory tractor beam. Confidently stepping into territory Mo Willems has been dominating in recent years, Cat Secrets takes a wrecking ball to the fourth wall and speaks directly to its audience. An audience that will be quite delighted.
Can you prove youâ€™re a cat? Because that’s what you’ll have to do if you want to read Cat Secrets. Non-felines are not allowed. A trio of suspicious cats guard the book, and arenâ€™t going to let just anyone crack the cover. They administer a couple tests to determine if the reader is a cat. Meowing and purring ensue, but the third and final test (napping) proves to be the cats undoing, as they can’t help but take a snooze themselves, leaving their book of secrets up for grabs.
The simplistic cartoon illustrations are an excellent match for the comedic text, creating a unified mood that screams funny. Bold colors coat every surface, with minimal backgrounds to focus attention (as if it were needed) on our main characters.
The conclusion is more calm then expected and no actual secrets are revealed – aspects that, while lending contrast and continuing the mystery, make the ending seem slightly abrupt.
Well-suited for read aloud settings, Cat Secrets will find plenty of kids eager to join in he fun.
Review copy from library.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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