Thursday, December 5

Backstage Cat by Harriet Ziefert, Illustrated by Jenni Desmond

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer received a review copy of this title through Edelweiss. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Blue Apple Books and is used solely as an aide to the review.

Being the cat of a leading lady is a fine life. The world of the theatre is fascinating and sensational, with much to be explored and discovered. When Simon, a cheeky and curious ginger cat makes his unexpected debut on the stage, there is plenty of hectic excitement to be had. Can a backstage cat be a star too?

A mischievous cat in the world of theatre is a marvellous concept. Simon is a pampered soul but he demonstrates from the beginning that he is very much an individual with plenty of curiosities. The insight into the world of the theatre was wonderful. I loved the sequence where the leading lady is getting prepped in her dressing room to go onstage, showing how her makeup, wig and accessories are applied in a two page spread.

Simon’s debut beyond the wings was a riot. The idea of a cat getting loose in the midst of a theatrical production is a comical one and was handled brilliantly. My favourite part in the whole book was the line “I do not obey!” and the cheeky look on Simon’s face. I was in stitches; it was just so accurate a portrayal of a cat’s disposition.

The stagehands’ attempt at coaxing Simon off set was a theatrical performance in itself and much as the cat was having a ball, so was I as a reader. The over-the-top solutions they took to capture this cat were juxtaposed with more plausible situations, such as Simon being tucked away among the spotlights. It was fabulous.

The illustrations balanced soft water colours and vivacious pencil sketches that give the scenes both a smooth and vibrant feel. The story was full of energy and came alive on the page, whether it was with the bright hues of the stage, or the dark blues of the entranced audience as the leading lady sang her solo.

'Backstage Cat' by Harriet Ziefert is a lively and humorous read that I would  recommend to lovers of cats and theatre. Jenni Desmond's illustrations are simply sublime.

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