Reviewed by Lucy Timmons
The Astronaut’s Cat is a fascinating picturebook that serves to launch the reader back down to earth!
The narrator follows the life of ‘Cat’, an inside cat who lives with ‘Astronaut’ on the moon. A number of features strike the reader immediately. The poetic language which resonates seamlessly with its focus. For example, the language at the beginning of the book seems to echo the tangible silence and loneliness of what I imagine to be life in space. Another exciting, interesting fact is that the font the author chose for the book is the same font used on the plaque left on the moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11.
From a teaching perspective, Tohby Riddle effortlessly gives the child reader a chance to explore elements of outer space and the moon whilst also exploring their emotional response to it. Possibly including the slight anxiety about the vastness of space and how our little blue ball fits into it. I vividly remember as a child being fascinated by space whilst at the same time feeling a bit nervous about the unknowing of it: ‘then there are tiny rocks called micrometeoroids whizzing around at ten kilometres per second. That troubles Cat’.
The images in the book are stunning. There are illustrations superimposed over images of the moon and space. The monochromatic space-like images are exploded into obscurity once Cat dreams of earth. The illustrations become a homage to all that is stunning in nature. Cat’s longing to be there inspires a sense of nostalgia and gratitude.
The themes of nature, space, loneliness, longing, humble appreciation, travel, adventure and all that they entail on an emotional level are explored beautifully in this stunningly crafted information narrative. The Astronaut’s Cat is a must for FS and KS1 classrooms. This book could also be used for assemblies looking at what we may wish to preserve and explore on our planet.