Opinion

A fat cat of a book

 

It’s not easy to write a good children’s book, and it’s not easy to match artwork with the story.  Hardest of all is to design and produce a book that’s well-made and professional looking.

All this has been achieved in The Hundred Dollar Special, a children’s book written by M. Kathryn Bourdon and illustrated by Sandra Donohue. Schools and parents should rush out and buy this book.

It’s a delightful story taken from life and embellished by M. Kathryn Bourdon from near Salmo. It’s a situation recognizable in many country homes. A young child Elise is visiting her grandparents’ farm, and the house is overrun by mice. There are mice scurrying everywhere.

So the grandparents decide to get a cat, and they choose the SPCA as the source. Grandpa has to explain to Elise what the SPCA is, an organization that rescues animals and then finds good homes for them.

At the SPCA, Elise chooses a calico cat, partly because the cat is sleeping in a far corner away from the others.  She names the cat “Jewel,” and after her grandparents pay $100 to set the cat up, they take the cat home to deal with the mice.

The cat, however, seems to have no interest in mice.  “Go catch some mice” are grandpa’s instructions, but the cat’s focus is elsewhere. It seems the cat is forever the centre of trouble or mischief.

Then one day it catches a mouse, and after that, it becomes what is called a “rescue” cat, the best mouser ever. It’s a story that begins with hope, slides into areas of disaster, and ends happily ever after—as children’s books usually do.

The book’s illustrations by Castlegar’s Sandra Donohue are fabulous. The pictures match the storyline precisely, step by step or scene by scene.  In some ways, the pictures eclipse the story because they’re so colourful and so true to how things should look. It’s like taking Donohue’s joyous water colour paintings off the wall and binding them into a book—this book about an errant cat become a pleasant addition to the grandparents’ home.

The Hundred Dollar Special, a title based on what it cost to retrieve the cat from the SPCA, is available at a range of venues.  In Castlegar, it can be purchased from the Kootenay Gallery, the Castlegar Book Shop, and the Gift Box.

In Nelson, Otter Books is carrying it.  In Trail, the Artisan Craft Co-operative has copies, and in Rossland, it can be found at Café Books West. Author Bourdon and illustrator Donohue also would be pleased to sell you a copy for your children or grandchildren’s enjoyment.

Who should read this book? Probably early elementary school students would be attracted to it.  However, as my friends indicated while discussing the book, it’s a story to be read aloud initially by parents.  The listening child, tucked up against mom or dad, will be carried away by both the story and the pictures.

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