Sunday, 15 March 2015

Cat's Night Out

Cat's Night Out

Caroline Stutson & 
J. Klassen

Cats.  Does anyone get them?  I mean, really get them; their fierce independence, their moods flitting from indifference to adoration and back in the swish of a tail, that casual, superior air?  We certainly don’t.  And what do they do all day?  We assume when they’re not ignoring our needy advances to stroke and hug them they’re mostly asleep in sunbeams, but what is all this resting for?  Well if this book is to believed, in the wee small hours the cats are out and they’ve got their dancing shoes on.  Welcome to the coolest party in town.

Caroline Stutson’s tail (we couldn't resist) traverses the city at night; its alleyways, rooftops and neon soaked fire escapes.  Against a backdrop of buildings and bright lights, the cats have a night out.  We watch as they tango and samba, sidestep and rumba, and even when they scatter as the sun rises and the neighbours complain, we are sure they will dance again.  Stutson’s rhyming text is stylish and effortless; it has a really jazz soaked feel but it is also full of whimsical details and fun.  The illustrations compliment the text perfectly, and who better to paint the town red (well, black and grey) with these feline foot-tappers than a man who has just about cornered the market by illustrating the dark.

Cats’ Night Out is a book that managed to slip under our radar for quite some time but any readers of our past reviews will realise how excited we were to find Jon Klassen’s ‘first book for children.’  Full of his signature dark tones and textures, Cats’ Night Out is not only a great example of his subtle humour but, for us, a chronicle of an illustrative great at his very beginning.  Klassen’s cats are pure nonchalance, as seemingly cool and disinterested as they are in all their other endeavours, they maintain this attitude as they dance the night away.  The subdued night-time palette is sublime and only provides further proof that no-one uses black quite like him, or quite so well.

A perfect marriage of text and illustration, full of wit and class, and as seemingly effortless as those fox-trotting felines,  Cats’ Night Out will provide readers with the purr-fect night in.

Top tip:  Make sure to look at the back cover.  It’s marvellous.

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