Review: Go Home, Cat!

Several years ago a pernickety cat climbed upon a roof and flatly refused to come down. Nicholas, the cat’s closest ally, employed every measure he could think of to coax his fearless or perhaps fearful feline companion down before rain set in and night fell.

I loved, Come Down, Cat! for a myriad of reasons. Its perfect simplicity and the way it presented perception and friendship were beautifully reinforced with Lucia Masciullo’s whimsical, folks-tale-feel illustrations. Especially that roof which spoke of Europe to me and reminded me of the days I spent contemplating the views from atop a terracotta tiled roof in the Old Town of Antibes.

Joy of joys, I have returned! Thanks to the latest Cat creation by Sonya Hartnett and Lucia Masciullo. This time Nicholas’ fortunes have turned and he decides to spend a fortuitous find (a shiny marvellous cat coin) on liquorice treats in town. Like me, Nicholas thinks liquorice is better than anything. He directs Cat to stay at home while daydreaming his way through town all the way to the sweets shop. Only one thing slows him down. Yes, the inscrutable stubbornness of Cat strikes again as she shadows him around the park, through the Piazza and along the cobbled streets refusing to go home.

Infuriated but also concerned for her safety in the busy streets, Nicholas reaches for her but in doing so jeopardises his mission and loses something in the process.

Go Home, Cat! spot-lights the same intense feelings of friendship and loyalty as its predecessor but thrusts them to an even higher level when a decision of scruples comes into play. This beautifully worded story magnifies the unspoken love between a human boy and an animal in the most endearing way; an unconditional relationship many young readers will recognise with their own pets. Desire clashes with duty but it is love that prevails.

Again I was transported to places that felt simultaneously foreign yet familiar. With a muted colour palette of light greens, blues and earthy hues (lighter and brighter this time because it is daytime instead of night), Masciullo creates an eclectic village that could be French or Italian or English. It is filled with pigeons and café goers and musicians and dogs and children … and mopeds! There is a subtle afternoon luminosity throughout that hugs Hartnett’s words and gives this book a wonderfully warm inviting feel. It’s an easy story to love even if or perhaps more so if, you don’t love cats. The gorgeous endpapers (a map of the town by Nicholas) feature contributions from a guest artist (in the making!). Can you guess who it might be? Check the house names and pretty floral details for clues.

Go Home, Cat! is a winsome tale of how far one will go and what one is prepared to lose in the name of love and friendship. Go Cat, Go!

Title: Go Home, Cat!
Author: Sonya Hartnett
Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia, $24.99
Publication Date: February 2022
Format: Hardcover
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Readings, QBD Books


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