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Picture Book Review: A Tale From the Pound by Sandy Throne

A Tale from the Pound by Sandy Throne is a sweet little picture book about a couple who want to adopt a cat, and end up choosing one that looks a little different from the rest. Toddler Monkey liked this one, mainly because, as she immediately recognized, the cat in the story looks a lot like one of our cats who is also a Maine Coon mix. Also, she liked that the book features many cute kittens and she responded well to the simple, easy-to-follow storyline.

However my own reactions to the book were a bit mixed. While I appreciated the overall message in the book, I felt that it wasn’t as well developed as it could have been. For example, the premise of the book is that the cat, Sophie, is “funny looking” because she has bigger ears than normal cats and “no one has adopted her because she looks so different.” However, a kitty with giant ears sounds extremely cute to me and I wasn’t convinced that Sophie’s ears actually were larger than those of the other cats in the illustrations. If the author hadn’t told us that her ears were large, I never would have noticed. Similarly, I liked how subtle the parallel was between the “funny looking” cat and the woman at the pet center who had dyed her hair the “odd” shade of blue, but for me this parallel didn’t quite work, because people choose to color their hair blue (because, well, they like it), whereas Sophie couldn’t choose the shape of her ears.

As a writer, I also got a little caught up with the point-of-view switches and inconsistent verb tenses, but my daughter didn’t mind or notice these issues at all, and actually quite liked the brief point-of-view switches. Another difference of opinion: my daughter thinks Sophie is “very cute” (her words!) though, while I’m not an artist, I felt that the illustrations were not the right style for this story and often felt the proportions and lines were off. In one instance, the illustration doesn’t depict quite the right thing. The page depicts two little boys looking at a room full of cats, but the text refers to the two main characters, Janet and Andy, and their response to the cats. This confuses my daughter who asks, “Where’s Janet and Andy?” every time we reach this page.

But despite these issues, my three-year-old daughter liked this book and was excited to receive it in the mail, so it is definitely a toddler-approved book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book directly from the publisher.

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