Captain Cat is the newest picture book by Inga Moore, author an illustrator of A House in the Woods and illustrator of the best adaptation The Wind in the Willows of that I have read and third best illustrated version after Ernest H. Shephard and Arthur Rackham's editions. Moore's illustrations are magically pastoral and domestically cozy, creating a world you can step into and live in and one that will linger with you long after you have left. Captain Cat is the kind of book that your children will read now, over and over, then remember well into their adulthoods with fondness.
The story of Captain Cat is fairy tale-like in its setting and straightforward telling. Captain Cat and his ship, the Carlotta, sail the seas, making trades in ports all over the world. But, Captain Cat's favorite time of day comes in the evening when he settles into his cabin with his many, many cats, poring over maps and charts and dreaming of the lands he would like to visit.When the day finally comes for Captain Cat to pursue his dreams, he finds himself (and all his cats) swept off course and headed for an remote and lonely island.
Fortunately for Captain Cat, the young Queen of the island is welcoming and gracious, excited for the new company. The Queen immediately invites the crew of the Carlotta, cats included, to lunch but chaos ensues when their meal is overrun by rats. Captain Cat's cats make quick work of the vermin and the delighted Queen rewards him with sacks of diamonds and rubies, begging to keep his cats. The cats make the decision for Captain Cat and the Queen, which Moore illustrates beautifully with Captain Cat on a row boat headed back to Carlotta, the cats milling about on the shore, deciding not to walk the gang plank to the row boat.
At this point, the story gets really special. While it could have gone sin one direction, Moore writes, "But, the story doesn't end here. Not at all. If anything, this is where it gets really good." And indeed it does. The treasure that the Queen gives to Captain Cat changes his life in more and the cats change hers - happily for both. But, happiest of all is the reunion of the Captain, cats, Queen and kittens at the end.
Captain Cat is an absolutely charming picture book that I definitely recommend, along with everything else that Inga Moore adds her magic touch to!
The Wind in the Willows
Source: Review Copy
Source: Review Copy