- Age Range: 4 - 7 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 2
- Hardcover: 40 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (March 2, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374399689
- ISBN-13: 978-0374399689
- Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Cat Who Walked Across France: A Picture Book Hardcover – March 2, 2004
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Condense The Incredible Journey to its purest essence then add the most exquisite, vividly painted illustrations, and there you have The Cat Who Walked Across France.
A cat lives contentedly for many years in a seaside village, until his old mistress dies and he is shipped off to another town far away. Lonely and ignored, the gray kitty sets off on an odyssey, lured by memories of "the tangy smell of lemons ripening on a branch under a window at the stone house by the edge of the sea," and driven by "the taste of the salty air that blew off the water and coated the bench behind the stone house by the edge of the sea." Returning finally to his home seaport, the paw-sore old cat finds the door to his stone house still open and inviting. Readers will be pleased (and not surprised) to learn that the new residents welcome the brave and determined fellow with open arms and dishes of food.
Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben, who have teamed up on several gorgeous and award-winning picture books, including Close Your Eyes, are a creative match made in heaven. Lovely! (Ages 5 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3--Displaced when his elderly mistress dies, a cherished pet makes a long and lonely trip through cities, towns, and the countryside to return to the seaside home he shared with her. "The cat pranced over bridges and bristled at the thundering trains that passed. At dusk he would lick the dirt from his face and paws. In his dreams he could hear the twigs snapping and the crunch of dried leaves as he circled around the stone house by the edge of the sea." Banks's account of the expedition and the longing of the unnamed feline is quiet but descriptive. Occasional dangers such as stray dogs, aggressive children, and city traffic punctuate the animal's plodding trek as he grows thin and tired, doggedly working his way across the country. Hallensleben's double-page scenes, painted in his customary broad strokes and deep palette, convey a warm but also somber sense of each place as the journey progresses. The unidentified French landmarks create a particular geography for the universally satisfying story. A map of the route taken appears on the back of the book jacket. Predictably, the house's new owners offer the feline a warm welcome. How could it be otherwise? Rich in theme and evocative in tone, the cat's quest will resonate with young readers.--Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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The unnamed cat, seen walking by a Monet-inspired Notre Dame, seems fated to join his gateaux miserables: "He prowled the street begging for scraps to eat and fleeing from stray dogs! But then, the Gallic spirit arises, and he decides to head for the home he was taken from years ago. The prose respects the intelligence of the young reader, and the inner voice calling him to the sea is believable.
However, this is more of a picture book than an adventure tale. Hallensleben shows the effects of light on scenery as the cat journeys towards the Mediterranean. While Hallensleben's richly textured oils and vast horizons are impressive in their grandeur, they don't distance the reader (perhaps because we can identify with the cat, and because of Hallensleben's warm and varied palette). We see the cat on a bridge overlooking "thundering trains," resting on the lawns of a large, shimmering chateau, seeking refuge in the snowy French Alps, and sipping water near what looks like a Roman bridge.
The paintings of the cat's single-minded journey give the book a unity and emotional pull far beyond its relatively simple story. The cat eventually finds a home and a friendly hand to pet him in a Matisse-inspired home and a Cezanne-inspired sea. This is an excellent book, especially for those who enjoy French landscapes and the painters who envisioned them.