Dan Bar-el, illustrated by Rae Mate,
Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?
Simply Read Books, 2011.
Dan Bar-el has taken Pussycat from the traditional rhyme far beyond London and the Queen’s chair, in a delightful romp around the world. The rich language is embellished with the beautiful and equally rich illustrations by Rae Mate. Printed on heavy, glossy paper this picture book is high quality in all ways.
Pussycat’s narrative is shared with a young girl in her nightgown, as she quizzes him on his adventures following the scaring of the mouse. His journey takes him from France to Australia to the frozen North to Egypt, to the Canadian Prairies and beyond.
"Pussycat, Pussycat, Did you get lost?
I strayed from the path at whatever the cost.
Pussycat, Pussycat, but were you all right?
The kindness of strangers gave warmth to my night."
The accompanying illustration shows Pussycat sipping chocolate around a campfire with an elderly woman, a young child - and an alligator! Charming.
The ending is most satisfying, with Pussycat claiming he "always will roam" but inviting the young girl, now in her coat and cap, to "travel with me, My partner, my friend." The illustration shows them arm in arm, under a full moon, with a mouse perched on the girl’s beret.
Dan Bar-el’s gift as a storyteller is evident throughout. The rhythm and rhyme of this story will make it a wonderful read aloud or pleasurable for a child to read on their own. Rae Mate’s considerable artistic skill shines. The whimsical illustrations enhance the story and will capture the attention of the young non-reader who could explore Pussycat’s adventures without the text. This book will also be enjoyed by children who like to memorize poems.
This wonderful book, likely to become a classic, is highly recommended.
Thematic Links: Stories in Verse; Adapted Nursery Rhymes; Circular Journeys; Friendship
Vol. 17, number 1
E - Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!
G - Good, even great at times, generally useful!
A - Average, all right, has its applications.
P - Problematic, puzzling, poorly presented.