Go Home, Cat!
Sonya Hartnett and Lucia Masciullo
Reviewed by Viv Young
Nicholas has just found a coin and he is off to the local sweet store to buy the thing he loves more than almost anything—liquorice. But Cat loves Nicholas and she will not let him go without her…
Go Home, Cat! is a tale of unconditional love and friendship that suggests the capacity of both to lessen the heartache of disappointment, a challenging emotion for most children. Nicholas is palpably excited about the liquorice he intends to buy and while his love of liquorice remains his first thought en route to the sweet shop, another more important love takes precedence in the end.
Cat displays a child-like persistence in following Nicholas and Nicholas’s cautious and censorious tone and gestures in response to Cat are quite adult-like. This characterisation encourages young readers to identify with the more mature human character, preparing them to apprehend Nicholas’s selfless act of unconditional love in the conclusion. The cat’s innocent and uncomprehending ‘Marl’ in response to all of Nicholas’s chiding is a highlight of the story. It underscores the cat’s childlike character but is also great fun to read out loud and is an invitation for kids to explore onomatopoeia by considering how familiar animal sounds might be represented differently in speech.
The artwork for Go home, Cat! is a dream. The muted bright colours, Nicholas’s mid-20th century costume and the cobblestone village in which he and Cat live all give the story an old-fashioned charm that suits its timeless themes. Cat’s playfulness, Nicholas’s excitement and also his grown-up attempts to manage the persistent Cat are enhanced at every turn in the illustrations, adding great humour and interest. Young readers will especially love the detail in the sweet shop and the map of Nicholas’s route that covers the end pages!
The themes of unconditional love and friendship in this enchanting story are thoughtful and, in some respects, mature, but the story of Go Home, Cat! is so engaging and the characters so loveable that children can easily grasp the timeless and beautiful message it conveys.