Book review: Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Newman, Lesléa. Ketzel the Cat Who Composed. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. Candlewick Press, 2015. unp. $16.89. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6555-5. Gr. 2+. P8 Q8

Newman KetzelMoshe Cotel, a composer, listened to the sounds around him, birds singing, cars in the streets and even the footsteps of the people walking below his city apartment. There are times when an author or a painter hits what they call a dry spell. They are unable to draw inspiration from anything. This happens to Moshe and it is a kitten, Ketzel, named for the Hebrew word for kitty, who walks on the keys of his piano and breaks his dry spell. The kitten had happened on a tune, a series of notes that Moshe uses to enter a contest and he wins a prize. His work will be performed in a concert hall. Moshe attends and takes Ketzel with him. This story is based on true events and at the end of the story Ketzel and Moshe are introduced on stage. The colored illustrations done in watercolor, gouache and pencil have a soft quality as they show Ketzel and Moshe working together on their song.

February 2016 review by Carol Bernardi.


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