Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed
Written by Leslea Newman; illustrated by Amy June Bates
Candlewick Press, 2015, Ages 5-10
The first page starts off the story as the author talks about a man in his apartment building playing his piano. The story then goes on to tell how the man had been playing piano for a very long time. He plays every day and then goes for an afternoon stroll. One day he is walking and finds a lonely kitten who he names, Ketzel. He takes the cat home and together they start to make beautiful music. He ends up entering a contest and he doesn’t win but everyone loves the piece created by him and Ketzel. The author shows a couple of themes, which included happiness, success, friendship, and love for music and animals.
The author's writing style is a bit advanced for most readers. He uses words over and over again. Such as on page two, he says: “Moshe was a composer. Every morning he composed himself by sitting very still. He listened outside himself and listened inside himself”. I think that parts of those couple of lines young readers may have to think about, or even ask about because they might not understand the depth of what it truly means. A good way the writer writes is how he says what each character is thinking and doing. I think it’s good to show the cat’s personality as well as Moshe the composer. Overall his writing is clear, and well thought out.
The illustrations are just simply beautiful. The pages are created by watercolor, and gouache. From the first page the colors are calming. The background tends to be gray and not as important as the front colors are bright. The front colors also tend to be ones that have focus on them. The building where the composer is stands out the most because of the red tones. Overall, each page was well thought out. The details are amazing and show what the author is trying to get across. Each image fades in with the rest of the pictures makes each image welcoming and quaint.
Overall, I would rate the book a seven out of ten. I would recommend this book to others.The text at times might be a bit confusing for a young child to understand but it also allows for the child to grow as a reader. The pictures are really inviting to a child at any age. The story line is one that has the reader saying “how cute”. The image of the kitten alone is why the child will want to pick this book up over and over again. For children with a love of music or animals they will want to pick up this book, and have mom and dad read it over and over. The book deserved the Sydney Taylor winner, and I’m ready to keep any eye out for other books Newman writes.
Reviewed by Bailey H