Friday 29 November 2013

PUSS JEKYLL, CAT HYDE by Joyce Dunbar and Jill Barton. Reviewed by Saviour Pirotta

Title:  Puss Jekyll, Cat Hyde
Written by Joyce Dunbar
Illustrated by Jill Barton
Published by Frances Lincoln
Publication date: 3rd October 2013
ISBN-10: 1847804926
ISBN-13: 978-1847804921

When asked why he'd settled on T.S. Elliot's 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats' as the source material for his new musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber famously answered something akin to, 'I read somewhere that 90% of people love cats, which gives the musical a big chance of becoming a hit.'

He was right, of course.  Cats have always figured prominently in art, from the funerary moggies carved by the Ancient Egyptians to the arrogant, wise-cracking Siamese twins in Disney's The Lady and the Tramp, Dr Seuss's Cat in the Hat and Lewis Carroll's grinning Cheshire feline.

No wonder, then, that cats feature largely in picture books too.   They are instantly recognisable, even to very young children.  We are all familiar with the cat's character, mores and foibles, which makes it the perfect protagonist for stories that can be understood and appreciated by readers all over the world.

Joyce Dunbar's Puss Jeykll and Cat Hyde is an exciting addition to the feline canon. Here is a book that explores the dual nature of the cat - the playful ball of fur we love to cuddle up to on the sofa and the amoral hunter that stalks vulnerable creatures by the light of the moon.

The rhythmic text, a beautifully written free-flow poem, takes us through a day and night in a cat's life.  We see the cat enjoying the housebound pursuits of a loving pet, interspersed with the exploits of a jungle wild-beast.   Dunbar uses quite challenging language, always a plus-point in my opinion.

Jill Barton's luminous coloured pencil and water colour drawings stick to a restricted palette, of mostly blues, beiges and blacks.  They compliment the text perfectly, making this a must-have book that will be enjoyed time and time again.

Reviewed by Saviour Pirotta



Penny Dolan said...

A text by Joyce Dunbar makes a picture book something special, and Puss Jekyll certainly sounds a good one.

Pippa Goodhart said...

It's a wonderful book, with a truly catlike cat that is far from the simplistic cuddly pet cat image - a wonderful book for a child who has a cat and could be made to look at that cat anew.

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