‘Cat & Dog are not the same, in fact they are very different and the perfect subjects for a tale of opposites … ’
Books featuring the concept of opposites are a well-established favourite with younger readers, but what makes Cat & Dog so uniquely appealing is that it actually is a tale, rather than simply a series of illustrated opposites. As our protagonists form unlikely playmates and chase each other through various scenarios, the reader wonders if things can end well – will they turn out to be enemies, or the best of friends?
Author and illustrator Tullio Corda keeps his text to carefully chosen essentials — just 32 words in total — and relies on the visual literacy of readers to interpret the narrative. This leaves no easy task for translator Taylor Barrett Gaines. Through a simple palette of vivid oranges and bright blues, which progressively expands to include yellow and green, the illustrations implicitly extend beyond the page, drawing the reader into the action and leaving visual clues as to what to expect next. The smudges of colour used to indicate movement also give the book a real tactile appeal. All this makes Cat & Dog an especially good choice if you are looking for a story to share with children of different ages simultaneously. While five- and six-year-olds can take pride in recognising words and reading the story, children as young as two or three can engage with the vivid images and join in with the ‘Oops!’ and ‘Phew!’ twists.
Corda has produced a range of playful, beautiful and thought-provoking titles in both French and Italian (including Léon et Tourbillon, a tender story of friendship between a man and a pigeon, which I’d also love to see translated), so it’s great that Red Comet Press have introduced his work to English-language readers in time for World Kid Lit Month. More generally, the launch of this new independent publisher committed to sharing picture books in translation is exciting in itself. I’m looking forward to discovering what Red Comet Books will bring us next!
Reviewed by Georgia Wall
CAT & DOG: A TALE OF OPPOSITES
by Tullio Corda
Translated by Taylor Barrett Gaines
Published by Red Comet Press (2021)
September 2021 #RivetingReviews titles are available to buy from bookshop.org.
Georgia Wall is a translator from Italian to English with a special interest in children’s and YA literature. Twitter: @cascettara.