Big Cat / Winston and The Indoor Cat

Big Cat
Jess Racklyeft
Allen & Unwin

Meet seven year old Catherine, an adventurer and investigator who likes everything to be ‘just so’ : her papers are organised by colour, her trainers always at the ready and her compass close at hand.

When she learns of Big Cats prowling near the city, she’s intrigued and next morning she wakes with a Big Cat hunt already in her mind. So, with essentials in her backpack, she sallies forth leaving ‘lures in the wildest place she knew.’ When her search yields no success, she sits alone to finish her snack and suddenly finds she’s face to face with a large, satisfied feline. This creature is totally unlike Catherine – lawless and chaotic

– but nonetheless the two bond, discovering they both love adventures. Catherine tells her new friend of her discoveries and Big Cat helps her make exciting new ones. The story ends on a wonderful note with Big Cat carrying ‘a little bit of Catherine in her pocket’ and Catherine keeping ‘a big piece of Big Cat in her heart.’ I love that.

Jess Racklyeft created this lovely story during lockdown in Melbourne where as she says in an introductory note, “ I discovered new places close to home … took new paths, looked for magic in the mundane” – and found it with the increased sharpness of cat-like eyes.

The book, with Jess’s detailed watercolour illustrations, pays tribute to small adventures, making new discoveries and appreciating what is around you. I think these are things a great many of us found close to home during those lockdown times. It also shows how spending time in the company of someone very different from yourself is often beneficial to both parties.

It is certainly true for the characters in this story

Winston and The Indoor Cat
Leila Rudge
Walker Books

Friendship and individuality are explored in this tale of Winston the outdoor one and the Indoor Cat, very different moggies indeed that form an unlikely friendship.

Winston’s outdoor existence suits him perfectly with its opportunities to explore freely and have exhilarating experiences. Then one morning he is surprised to encounter The Indoor Cat, albeit behind glass and decides to free the pristine, leisure loving creature. Winston goes on to show The Indoor Cat all the great things about outdoor life and his new friend has to agree, it is thrilling

but not really what he wants.

Back home he goes, inviting Winston back for lunch, after which he shows him all the wonderful things about life indoors. Yes, it’s a life of leisure and luxury, Winston agrees but not the life for him, most of the time anyhow.

This simple tale of respecting differences, staying true to yourself and being open to new experiences is told with a simple, straightforward text and gently humorous watercolour and pencil illustrations. Ideal for sharing with very young listeners.

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