So this is a roundup of various picture books featuring cats (and some mice) that I loved and therefore want to share with everyone because of the joy of reading children’s literature as an adult. (See LitHub for a review of Wild Things also.)
First on the list is The White Cat and the Monk, which has been on my to-read list for a while. It recently made its way back into my periphery and so I decided to finally scratch one title off that ever-growing list and bring it home.
The White Cat and the Monk is one of many retellings of a poem titled Pangur Bán, penned anonymously sometime in the 9th c. in Old Irish. It’s a meditation on the relationship between the white cat and the scholar monk and how their daily activities parallel each other despite being so disparate.
My first exposure to the book was through a review on BrainPickings, which made me want to pick it up immediately, what with the sumptuous illustrations and glowing review (and of course, let’s not kid ourselves: the cat), and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The pace is slow, but in a measured way, such that even though by the end of the poem we haven’t strayed far from the room in which the monk resides, the reader is still left with a sense of accomplishment. Not much that is tangible has been completed perhaps, but there is a sense that something has been accomplished, and that we now in a sense have a greater understanding of the world at large.
I kind of just really wanted to bring these two books to everyone’s attention because of the covers. That’s honestly it. There’s zero meat to this post, but I think the books featured are both compelling in similar ways (insofar as the cover is concerned) and find myself hoping for an entire collection of creepy doll head/face covers like this. Perhaps they constitute a new genre in their own right?
First up is The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch and The Secret History, which Alyssia reviewed in her post earlier this year. I remember seeing it on the shelves way back when and slotting that book away into my memory for future reading. I still haven’t gotten to it, but I remember it quite vividly and, more importantly, was reminded of it when I saw this other book (see below) floating about.
Having read a number of reviews on Goodreads, I’m actually pretty convinced that The Little Friend and You’ll Never Know, Dear (below) are quite different in tone, but part of me still wants to believe that whoever will like one will like the other.
In The Little Friend, we follow twelve-year old Harriet as she tries one summer to solve the mystery of her brother’s murder, and of course she plunges into much more than she could ever have imagined starting into her investigation.
You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron. My first thought was that I had probably seen that doll before, which was immediately followed by the realization of where I thought I’d seen it before: The Little Friend. It’s clearly not the same doll, but I really want a huge collection of porcelain doll face close-ups that fill book covers. Does anyone have some more (porcelain) doll book covers they would like to share?