What can cats do?

posted in: Abner Graboff | 2

What Can Cats Do? by Abner Graboff is an innocent yet perceptive mixture of questions, statements and observations comparing what a child can do with life as a cat. Graboff’s expansive, bold illustrations are robust, captivating and full of warmth and humour. The expressive characterization of the cat under scrutiny will ensure this feline finds a way to earn a welcome place in your lap as you share this book with little ones.

In a wonderfully childlike (but never childish) way Graboff slips in a fair bit of philosophy under the fun. Just what makes us us? What sets us apart? What can we do and what are our limits? These questions, though unlikely to be verbalised, are just perfect for young listeners to this perfect picture book who will be at an age where much of their exploring of the world is ultimately about finding answers to these questions. But if existential questioning isn’t what you’re in the mood for, then this book also works simply as a celebration of the mysterious and marvellous ways of moggies, gently capturing their independent and sometimes secretive nature.

Originally published in 1963 as A Fresh Look At Cats, 55 years later this book is still as fresh and funky as it was back then. Its witty observations will make you giggle. Its fluid yet striking illustrations will make you smile. Utterly gorgeous!

With the help of our own feline we set about creating our own art inspired by Graboff’s line and wash technique.

Indian ink is waterproof and so if it is left to dry (this doesn’t take long – often just a minute or so) before applying a watercolour wash it rather magically stays unperturbed whilst the watercolour paint swirls and blotches, making for an interesting painting experience. We used Indian ink to create our outlines and then filled them in with watercolour.

We’re rather delighted with our final art gallery. That said, we don’t know what our cat thinks of the paintings 😉

Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of What Can Cats Do? by the book’s publisher, Bodleian Library Publishing.

2 Responses

  1. Simone Fraser

    Zoe, thank you for your ongoing heart-felt efforts with Playing By the Book! It is so delightful and guaranteed to make me smile. I’m not a major cat fan – unless we’re talking Siamese and Tonkinese – but I love the artwork and the text you’ve featured! And the gallery created is definitely something to be proud of. = )

    • Zoe

      Dear Simone, I’m so grateful each time you make the effort to comment on my blog posts. It really makes me happy, and I feel this little thread of connection going round the world. It’s so lovely! We’re solidly cat people in this home, but yes, the artwork in this book is deilghtful and it was the perfect excuse for us to try our own.
      Zoe recently posted..What can cats do?

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