At the Drop of a Cat

At the Drop of a Cat cover
At the Drop of a Cat by Élise Fontenaille. Translated by Karin Snelson & Emilie Robert Wong. Illustrated by Violeta Lópiz

by Élise Fontenaille
Translated from the French by Karin Snelson & Emilie Robert Wong
Illustrated by Violeta Lópiz
U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2023
32 pages

Ages 9-13

A young boy shares his observant and abundant appreciation for his grandpa, Luis, in this picture book originally published in France. Luis takes care of the six-year-old narrator twice a week: “Every Wednesday, and on Sundays, too.” Luis is a gardener, and a lover of nature. “When he talks to the chickadees, they talk back … Luis talks with his cat too. They don’t always agree.” The boy notes that Luis has been working since he was a young boy himself. Later, he was a refugee; he walked to France from Spain at age 11. “Dad told me Luis didn’t have a chance to be a kid.” Luis never learned to read or write, and says he’s too old to learn now, but he loves wordplay, sometimes teasingly saying “at the drop of a cat,” or telling his grandson that he’s “the apple of his pie.” The young narrator loves these turns of phrase, even if his teacher doesn’t. Luis can draw, and cook, and sing and play guitar. And now, he’s teaching his grandson to play, too. Love—unstated yet obvious–radiates from every page of a child-centered story set against distinct, expressive illustrations celebrating the natural world that—along with his grandson—clearly brings Luis joy. ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center