The Astronaut’s Cat Review

Title: The Astronaut’s Cat
Author: Tohby Riddle
March 2020
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children’s
Genre: Picturebook
Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $24.99

I received a copy of The Astronaut’s Cat from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A delightful story that celebrates the wonders of the Moon, the curiosity of cats and the precious beauty of Earth.

The astronaut’s cat is an inside cat.
And she likes it like that.

The astronaut’s cat is an inside cat – on the Moon! But she dreams about the strange outside world – and the mysterious blue ball that rises into the ink-black sky . . .

A wonderfully whimsical, funny and surprising story of a very unusual ‘inside cat’ – by one of Australia’s finest picture-book creators. Perfect for readers who are intrigued or inspired by the landscapes of the Moon and the Earth – or fascinated by the inner life of cats.

The Astronaut’s Cat is a beautiful story about an indoor cat who watches an astronaut, through a round window, explore the moon outside. The cat is happy being an inside cat, but as she watches, she dreams about what it might be like to go outside and have her own adventures.

Initially, I requested to review The Astronaut’s Cat because I love cats and I love space and this seemed like a beautiful collision of the two. And it is. Tohby Riddle’s gentle, lyrical storytelling style, introduces us to the cat and her life and her dreams.  His narrative weaves facts about space into the story that will delight any young space fans.

What surprised me most, and this was purely incidental as the book was in production long before the current events, was how topical this book is, and how it’s a nice way to talk to younger children who are currently stuck inside due to the pandemic. The cat in the story cannot physically go outside – there’s no air, the temperatures are not conducive, etc – a bit like the children who have to spend their time at home now. The cat dreams of her adventures, but knows that it’s okay that she’s an inside cat for now, and I think that this book has the potential to provide some support for children to begin to understand that for themselves.

As always, Tohby Riddle’s gorgeous illustrations provide the backbone for this book. Using a combination of hand-drawn/painted illustrations  as well as photography of the moon’s surface and the Earth, it’s just enough whimsy and reality to be perfectly enchanting. I did see that the publisher’s had shared a video of Riddle talking through some of his favourite spreads in the book, which may interest people, and definitely added to my own reading experience.

This is a perfectly charming book that children will love.

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