September 7, 2016

ARCHIE SNUFFLEKINS OLIVER VALENTINE CUPCAKE TIBERIUS CAT

I was so excited to take a look at Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat, Katie Harnett's debut picture book. It is so sweet and so adorably illustrated--not to mention it's about a cat--that you can't help but open it right back up to read again when you're finished. There's a wandering cat who lives on Blossom Street, and every morning he visits each and every house on the street. Every house, that is, except for number 11. No one visits number 11. Until one day the cat decides to give it a shot.



The title of the book comes from the idea that no one in the neighborhood knows the cat's real name, so everyone calls him something different. It's such a clever detail, highlighting how lost Archie (as I'll call him) truly is. As he wanders, it quickly becomes clear that Archie is only wandering because he's restless, searching for where he belongs. Before he finds Mrs Murray, Archie's eyebrows are always furrowed, his mouth and nose are a little x, and he just always looks generally ticked off all the time. Flash forward to the last two spreads where we see him with Mrs Murray, though, and his eyebrows are lifted, he's smiling, and not being destructive. Archie is truly a cat looking for his forever home.


Luckily, Mrs. Murray proves to be the perfect companion, and it doesn't take us long to see how lonely she is. Her first spread is four identical images--one for each season--of her silhouetted shape in the window. She sits there all day every day, bored and lonely, and it's such a prominent part of her character that we don't even get to see her face when we meet her, just shadowy shapes. Archie's decision to give her a chance and show up on her doorstep is the saving that they both need. And of course, the neighborhood stops by to see Archie still.


So much more happens in this book than I had time to capture here, so definitely grab it from your local library or bookstore and check it out. It's an absolutely lovely debut! Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat publishes September 6 from Flying Eye Books!