Jedda Robaard needs no introduction as the author-illustrator of the best-selling Little Creatures series. Her soft watercolour illustrations have captured warmth and light effortlessly, and she continues this illustrious tradition in her wonderful new book, Monsieur Chat. A thoughtful and gentle book, Robaard has put heart and soul into this venture, and it shows.
As adults, we all know the feeling of coming home to an empty house. Maybe it was a while ago, when you first lived alone, or maybe your family is on vacation and you had to stay behind and work. Regardless, opening the door to an empty apartment always brings a little bit of a sinking feeling to your stomach, before you put your coat on the hook and settle into your nightly routine. Josephine and Pierre are two such adults. They live in a very big apartment block, painted so delicately with shutters and flowers that have a distinctly Parisian feel, but have never met. They are, in fact, two very lonely people.
If there is one thing besides family that can brighten up a home, however, it is a pet. Pets bring warmth, personality, and joy into any house – whether it is a dog or a cat or sometimes even a simple goldfish. In Monsieur Chat, however, it is of course a cat that comes into their lives and changes their destinies forever. Josephine sees him in the mornings, and Pierre in the evenings. They share breakfast and dinner with him. Still, however, they do not meet, though their lives are a little less lonely. When Monsieur Chat goes missing, however, and Josephine and Pierre both set out in search for him, everything will change – for the better.
This book will truly brighten up your day – the simple text is honest and heartfelt, letting the illustrations become the focus of the book. For a picture book written and illustrated by a graphic designer, this is no surprise. It is the small smiles on Josephine and Pierre’s faces that become bigger and bigger as they become less and less lonely that will bring a smile to your own face, and tell you more than the text ever could. Their smiles are at their biggest when Monsieur Chat is with them, and only become even bigger by the very end. The delicacy of the illustrations only makes the story even warmer and more heartfelt.
For adults, they’ll love reading this for the Parisian setting and the subtle references to Sleepless in Seattle that Robaard slips in effortlessly. The illustrations alone are artistic enough for adults to enjoy as well as children. For children, Robaard has created a tactile story book, with cut-outs on the front cover showing Josephine, Pierre, and Monsieur Chat in the apartment block. Throughout the book as well, there are pop up flaps that open to show interiors and cut-scenes, often of Monsieur Chat doing something ridiculously cute! Kids as well will get a kick out of being able to see Monsieur Chat hiding around the building, hidden from Josephine and Pierre – after all, kids love knowing something adults don’t!
Monsieur Chat is the perfect storybook for a gentle goodnight read or a roadtrip book. It is caring, sensitive, and will leave you feeling warmer and your heart fuller than before. The only danger is, of course, the constant pleas you’re going to get from your kids for a cat…