… but also very silly.
In I Am a Very Clever Cat, author and illustrator Kasia Matyjaszek shows these two sides in a joyful and humorous way, though admittedly Stockton the cat errs on the side of silly. Despite his claims that he is good at everything (including painting, juggling, rhythmic gymnastics and violin playing) and especially knitting, we soon discover that he is anything but a genius with a ball of yarn and two needles.
Stockton wishes to knit himself a glorious scarf for a soiree but he soon ties himself up with his neon pink threads, and loops it around all the furniture in his house. He is reliant upon the help of two quiet but industrious mice who take over when things go very wrong for Stockton. So the question is – is Stockton really clever? He changes his claim to ‘smart’ at the end of the book, but of course that word can be taken in more than one way!
I read this book today to the children in Year 2. They loved telling Stockton that he really wasn’t a clever cat! They also weren’t keen on his choice of neon pink for a soiree scarf, though the yarn Stockton uses is great to follow throughout the book as the line continues from one spread to the next. Matyjaszek’s illustrations are beautiful and lively and encourage the children to engage with her characters – on Stockton’s body there are faint fingerprints mixed in on top of his teal-coloured coat. The mice, by contrast, are drawn in swirling pencil, and the children loved watching what they were doing behind Stockton’s boasts and claims. They also preferred the mice’s scarves!
Kasia Matyjaszek graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2010 with a Masters in illustration, and a picture book that she created for her final degree show was highly commended in the Macmillan Book Prize. It is easy to see why. Her images are vivid, fun and inviting and, as with all the best picture books, the illustrations tell a different version of a story to the words. This is sure to become a favourite in my school library and is one of the brightest, freshest releases I have seen this year.
I Am a Very Clever Cat has just been published by Bonnier Publishing, who kindly sent me a review copy. However, the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.