Books educate, elevate, entertain, rescue, distract, divert, and ...what did I leave out? Books mean many things to many different kinds of people in a variety of stages of their lives. For the past month I’ve been away from my desk (weddings, graduations, trips, power outages, technical problems) but never far from books. Even if I decide to go all high tech, I’ll keep close at hand books with paper pages, a legal pad, and a pencil that still writes, even if it’s lost its point. A flock of messenger pigeons might not be a bad idea, either.
Summer begins officially four weeks from tomorrow, but the minute school is out, it feels like summer. One sure sign is the number of cars circling the parking lot at our library. If you’re one of those loading up for quiet times (you hope) ahead, here’s something to make you look twice. A square cat.
SQUARE CAT by Elisabeth Schoonmaker, Aladdin, 2011
How do you fit in when you are a square cat living in a round world? That’s Eula’s problem.
Of course, she wants to be round like her friends, Patsy and Maude.
Have you considered what it would be like if you wanted to chase a mouse into a hole or wear circle skirts, or how you’d get up if you tipped over? Well, have you? Being a square cat is definitely not the cat’s meow.
Luckily, Patsy and Maude, who are blue and yellow cats, want to help. (Note: Eula might be orange, but I’d call her terra cotta. Oh, well.)
Patsy and Maude decorate Eula with round things, hoop earrings and rouge spots on her cheeks. They hold their mouths in O’s and dance in circles, eating doughnuts. Even the sprinkles look round on these vividly illustrated pages.
It almost works–until Eula tips over.
Well, maybe it would be easier for Patsy and Maude to become square cats instead of changing Eula into a round cat.
They all tip over.
These three cats learn there are advantages to being who you are. Other cats will learn from them. If you are round or square, why would you want to be any other cat?
This is Elizabeth Schoonmaker’s first picture book for young children. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University at Albany, and her work has been exhibited in Chicago and New York.
Maybe author/illustrator Schoonmaker was inspired by her daughters to teach colors, shapes, and self esteem in this romp of a book. Or maybe it was her cat, Stanleigh, who is neither round nor square, just gray.
I hope you like this book. It is destined to be the one your toddler will clamor for at least 1,365 times. This summer.