Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It’s Day 2 of Darcy Pattison's Random Acts of Publicity. It's Cats on Wednesday, too, so I have chosen to promote/review a lovely book featuring a brave cat as the heroine.
I met Gretchen Woelfle a few months ago at an author/teacher event and fell in love with her book Katje the Windmill Cat. It didn’t hurt that the illustrator, Nicola Bayley, is a long-time favorite of mine.
The story is based on a true tale of a 15th century flood which Woelfle first heard about while travelling in Holland. Originally appearing in a different format in Spider magazine, it involves a heroic cat, a miller and his wife and baby. Woelfle has filled in the unknown details with a delightful plot. And she and illustrator Bayley have captured the essence of the feline personality.
After being the only companion of a miller, Katje is repeatedly shooed aside by the miller’s new wife. To keep her cat dignity intact, Katje moves from the house to the miller’s windmill, but continues to secretly return and play with the family’s new baby. When the dike near their home bursts and the baby is swept away in the ensuing flood, Katje shows heroism and the ending is satisfying and enjoyable.
According to Woelfle’s web site, she has three cats – one of which looks a lot like Katje. English illustrator Bayley, as evidenced by all the gorgeous cat books she has illustrated, is a cat owner as well. Her watercolor pencil illustrations are detailed and exquisite. The added decorations of small delft tiles, in their traditional blue and white, feature mini-details pulled from the story – the baby, the cradle, mice, etc. Children love such small elements, which catch the eye and continue to entertain with each reading. Katje, the Windmill Cat, first published in 2001, is a continuing delight.