The Picture Book Buzz

Ghost Cat - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

June 21, 2019

You know you've found a treasure, when a story resonates deep within your heart.

 

Over the years, I've lost pets and dearly loved family members and friends. The strangest things will trigger memories, both happy and sad. But as time passes, the grief slowly eases a bit.

 

When we lost our beloved cat (and my kids were in 3rd and 5th grades), I wish this book had existed. A book that acknowledges how large a hole loss can leave and how, eventually, you discover that while you'll never forget the ones you've lost, the heart has an infinite ability to stretch and love. 

 

 

Ghost Cat

 

Author/Illustrator: Kevan Atteberry

 

Publisher: Neal Porter Books (2019)

 

Ages: 3-6

 

Fiction

 

Themes:

Lost pet, dealing with grief, loving again, and cats

 

Synopsis:

There is a ghost in my house. I've only seen it out of the corner of my eye, but I think it is a cat, says a little boy in this comforting tale of love and loss.

 

There's something oddly familiar about this ghost cat--it does lots of things that remind the boy of the cat he used to have. The boy's not sure why the ghost cat never stays for more than a few moments, or why the ghost cat has visited him in the first place. He follows the ghost cat all over his house, until finally it leads him to something new and wonderful.

Bestselling author/illustrator Kevan Atteberry's artwork and story strike a perfect balance of evocative and haunting, as well as warm and hugely comforting to anyone struggling to cope with a loss.

 

Opening Lines:

There is a ghost in my house.

I've only seen it out of the corner of my eye, but I think it is a cat.

I know because I used to have one.

 

Why I Loved this book:

Every now and again, I also get a flash of light or catch a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye.  I hadn't thought much about it, until I read this book. Now, I wonder.

Text and Image © Kevan Atteberry, 2019.

 

With such economy of words and pictures, Kevan portrays the heartbreaking loss of one's pet in a way that children (and adults) can relate to and empathize with; sharing the boys unspoken loneliness and grief.

Text and Image © Kevan Atteberry, 2019.

 

I really love the way the ghost cat is depicted as a blue cat with glowing yellow eyes surrounded by a white swooshing aura. It really stands out against the brown and orange, earthy toned, sparse background. The boy is sure he feels it rub his leg or snuggle close at night. Yet, when he looks it's a blur, never quite there. 

 Text and Image © Kevan Atteberry, 2019.

 

However, the ghost cat is not spooky or scary. Just a typical mischievous feline, knocking things about and terrorizing a fish. Until one day, the boy finally sees it and follows it to the door. You're going to have to read it to find out the ending. But know that Kevan nailed it!

 

This book is touching, reaffirming, and poignant. A message of hope for a child, or adult, who has lost a loved one and an affirmation that love continues. As Publisher’s Weekly said, "The heart, it seems, has room for everyone we have ever loved.” A wonderful book to open discussions, and help healing, after a loss of a pet or loved one.  

 

Resources:

- check out Tara Lazar's blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), for the story behind this book and a demonstration of the progression of the images for Ghost Cat

- write a story or poem about your pet (loved one) or write a note to them;

- draw a picture of you and your pet (loved one);

 

- create a photo album; or

 

- make a Memory Box. See this guide (from the Counseling Directory) for ideas.  

 

 

If you missed Kevan Atteberry's interview on Tuesday, find it (here). 

 

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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