What Cats Think Reviews

School Library Journal

Cover: What Cats Think Author: John Spray Illustrator: Mies van Hout Publisher: Pajama Press

“This book perfectly encapsulates everything that is elegant and enigmatic, sinister and sassy in feline behavior. Free-verse poems provide glimpses into the minds of cats, always with a clever, subtle sense of humor. These verses will work well when teaching children that poetry comes in many forms, not just rhyming couplets…..The rhythmic text and dynamic art will delight all readers, but cat lovers will take extra pleasure in the quintessentially feline traits celebrated in this book.”
—Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State University, OH

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Publishers Weekly

“Are cats capable of poetry? They are in this volume, which imagines their interior lives through 20 short poems, some more predictable than others….Color pours off each page in van Hout’s vibrant, bold illustrations—a mix of acrylic ink, oil pastels, and gouache. Her felines expressively embody Spray’s emphatic free verse, which authentically gives voice to cats’ changeable emotions.”

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“Evocative, whimsical art portrays a wide array of cats exhibiting various activities, behaviors, and moods, and in lively free-verse poems, they individually explain the motivations behind them….Vibrant mixed-media illustrations depict the cats with bold colors, eye-catching patterns, scribbly lines, and thick brushstrokes, deftly using palette and perspective to convey emotion…Originally published in the Netherlands but with original English text, this ranges from silly to contemplative, but it’s van Hout’s art that takes center stage in this imaginative picture book feline aficionados especially will enjoy.”
—Shelle Rosenfeld

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…Fun to say words and phrases (slobbery, slathering kitty-eaters describe dogs) and bright large drawings of cats will make the verses appealing to young listeners.”
—Tanya Boudreau

Read the full review on page 12 of the December 2019 Final Issue of Resource Links

CM Magazine

“The many facets of a cat’s personality are showcased in this delightful tribute to domestic felines. An assortment of vivid, colourful cats present their feelings in free verse, each one on a separate double-page spread. The author’s use of the first person is very effective in drawing readers in. Some of the poems are of the laugh-out-loud variety while others will cause readers to commiserate with the feline narrators….

Each cat’s uniqueness is not only celebrated by the clever free verse but also by the vibrant, mixed media illustrations, rendered in acrylic ink, oil pastels and gouache, primarily in bright greens, yellows, reds and blues. The cats are shown in a variety of poses, but what makes the illustrations truly charming are the priceless facial expressions….Readers need not be cat lovers to thoroughly enjoy this book. What Cats Think is fun, imaginative and loaded with personality!

Highly Recommended.”
—Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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Kirkus Reviews

“Colorful, expressive pictures of cats are accompanied by brief text….Bright hues, scribbly lines, and high-contrast backgrounds combine to create pictures that pop, and the relatively large trim size adds to their impact.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“In brilliant colours of lime green and red, turquoise and purple, Mies van Hout’s art, created with acrylics, oil and gouache, startle and comfort the reader with an array of cats. They are skinny and scared, obese and wise, and playful and sneaky. They are no one’s cat and they are everyone’s cat….It is in the creation of scenarios that John Spray illustrates with words what Mies van Hout’s cats say in her art….

With What Cats Think, Mies van Hout and John Spray have given us the context for cats’ looks and sounds that will remind us of the depth of feline reasoning and expression. It’s not surprising to many that cats have been celebrated and worshipped throughout history and it’s best we not forget this.”

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Fab Book Reviews

“Mies van Hout’s acrylic ink, gouache and oil pastels artwork is typically stunning, eye-catching and vibrant: there are distinctive colour palettes for each spread; each drawn cat is unlike the one before; and I would be absolutely remiss if I did not mention that the cats are drawn with remarkably expressive faces, bodies, and tails (there are some cats that had me giggling over their expressions and thoughts!). There is much to pore over in What Cats Think and I enjoy that it doesn’t necessarily have a linear direction to it: that means that whether a reader is absorbed by the artwork, or particular cats, or particular poems- Spray’s poems are whimsical and should be hugely appealing to younger and older readers!- or whether a reader wishes to enjoy the picture book beginning to end, the story simply works. For the cat lovers, for the readers who enjoy their animal stories in verse, and for those who enjoy cat-focused stories such as I Hate My Cats (A Love Story)Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story, the Fuddles books by Frans Vischer, I Won’t Eat That, or Galia Bernstein’s I Am a Cat might especially adore What Cats Think.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“If you have never lived with a cat, you may not recognize the many faces they present to the world. That is decidedly not true of Mies van Hout, whose wonderful, warm and witty mixed media artwork bless the pages of this fascinating book….John Spray’s free verse text celebrates the cats presented. Each turn offers a double page spread with featured feline accompanied by tremendous variety in tone and temperament….

Verse matches art in every way. There are times when readers will laugh out loud. There are also more sombre, haughty, and frightening times. The absolutely on-point feline faces speak clearly to the emotions felt. Those who love cats will tell you that cats do have varied emotions. The 20 featured here certainly speak eloquently to that statement.

You don’t have to love cats to love this book. It’s a charmer!”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This lovely picture book showcases the beautiful artwork of Mies van Hout. Her pictures are engaging and show the emotions and movement of the cats perfectly….What a great way to have kids both explore their own emotions and relate to animals in their lives….I also loved the colours here, where drawings are each saturated with one colour showing the different shades and intensities in a fun way.”

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