So I had Ursula Le Guin on my mind and I decided to order some of her books from the library that I might not have come across before. I discovered a series in the teen section that I’ve not yet read: Gifts, Voices, and Powers, which I’ll be checking out, and this gem of a children’s book: Cat Dreams (illustrated by S. D. Schindler).
Last night, to wind down after a frustrating day, I got out Cat Dreams to take a look before bed. It’s aimed, I would guess, at very small children, or those just learning to read. The artwork is superb and the main character calico cat (who is unnamed in the book) looks remarkably like my Pip, with nearly identical markings – even down to the way her nose is unevenly bisected by the abrupt color division of grey and peach – although Pip may be a slightly more faded version. The cat even has a similar body type. If you’ve ever had a calico cat, you’ll know that they are sweet, independent, and have a reputation for being the devil when out of their comfort zone (like at the vet).
I love this book because it is engagingly simple – cat thought bubbles. “It’s fun to run. I love to leap. But now I think I’ll go to sleep.” And the cat has that purposeful look on her face as she stretches her leg down to the quilt on the sofa. And then the cat dreams, “Oh, how nice! It’s raining mice!” and we see exquisite little mice of different sizes and colors gently falling, the cat reaching a paw out for one. But somehow, the picture is not sinister – even though the obvious next step would be for the cat to pounce and devour.
Dogs run away, huge bowls of kibbles and cream appear in the “good dream.” A catnip tree is climbed and jays fly after the cat, causing her to fall out of the tree in the “bad dream.” Funny thing is, as soon as she wakes from the dream, she thinks, “I need a lap. I need her lap” and we see just a glimpse of a person reading a book, almost off-screen. And by the next page, she’s in “her lap,” snuggling up. And this is magical: “I’m singing my song inside of my fur. Purr … Purr … Purr … Purr …” I wish I had a child to share this book with.