Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BIG CAT PEPPER release

Yippie, today is Big Cat Pepper's official release! Please check it out the next time you're wandering up and down the isles of your local bookstore. And of course you can purchase it online if you like~ There have been some kind reviews coming in over the past month--
here are a few snippets:

Big Cat Pepper Elizabeth Partridge, illus. by Lauren Castillo. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59990-024-7

“Because of their loyalty and innocence, the death of a pet is especially poignant, and Partridge gets it just right with this tale of a boy and his beloved cat, Pepper. Using simple rhymes, the comforting daily routines described at the outset forewarn tragedy. Sure enough, one day Pepper no longer wants to play. Partridge does not sugarcoat what happens next: “Is he gonna die, Momma, / is he gonna die? / Mama said she thought so, / cry, oh cry.” The discovery of the dead animal is not shown, but we do see the boy cradling a wrapped bundle that he and his mother place into a flower-bed hole. The rest of the book entails the boy’s grief with emotional pencil illustrations of too-dark nights and too-empty rooms. It’s all pretty darn sad, but the story is buoyed by a stirring ending: hoping to understand Pepper’s “spirit,” the boy closes his eyes and realizes the breeze feels just like his cat’s fur and whiskers. Pets come and go; best to have this one on hand.— Booklist

“Mama, me, and Pepper,/ always been this way/ Never been without him,/ even for a day,” says the young narrator in introducing the main characters of this rhyming story. But Pepper, a big tabby cat, is “way too old” and within a few pages, he dies. Partridge (Whistling) and Castillo (Buffalo Music) don't try to smooth over or rush through the loss, giving their boy protagonist the respect his love and loss deserve (he comes to understand that Pepper will remain “always in my heart”)...Castillo's mixed-media domestic scenes, rendered in muted tones and composed mostly along the same, prosceniumlike plane, provide reassurance and emotional ballast for both the narrator and readers, as the boy and his mother care for the cat during its final days and bury it in the flower bed... Ages 3–8. Publishers Weekly

“‘A young African-American boy sure loves his big cat Pepper, but one day Pepper won’t play. The next day Pepper won’t drink or purr. After the inevitable occurs, mother and son bury the cat in a flowerbed. When the boy asks if Pepper will be scared down there, Mama responds, “No, sugar, no, / I’ll tell you why. / His spirit is forever— / it can fly, fly, fly.” The boy doesn’t understand until one day he holds still: The grass tickles his ankles like Pepper’s fur, and he hears Pepper’s purr in the wind. The boy’s heart opens up, and he knows Pepper will always be with him. Castillo’s mixed-media illustrations of a rural, single-parent family are smudgily warm and comforting. The entirely secular explanation of death and the fact that there is no substitution pet added to the family in the end make this a very worthwhile addition to bibliotheraputic literature for the young.”—Kirkus Reviews

4 comments:

taeeun yoo said...

yay~! Congratulations Lauren! This book is so beautifully done! Hope many many children read this book!

DES said...

Hey Lauren, These illustrations are so gorgeous. They just feel right. Old fashioned but fresh. I am inspired as usual!

David

Lauren Castillo said...

Thanks so much, Tae and David!
And looking at both of your work ALWAYS leaves me inspired :)

matt said...

I really want to get this one. A VERY difficult subject matter, but it looks like you got the tone just right.