Reviews for Chicken and Cat

Booklist Reviews 2006 February #1
PreS-Gr. 2. Springing straight from Varon's graphic-novel background, this clean, wordless picture book introduces a duo in the tradition of George and Martha, Boo and Baa, and so many others. When Cat visits Chicken in a cartoonland version of New York City, the drab, gritty surroundings dampen his mood, and day trips to Central Park and Coney Island merely underscore the gloom of Chicken's neighborhood. In a conclusion reminiscent of Sarah Stewart and David Small's The Gardener (1997), the friends plant a garden that brings spectacular color to a vacant lot--and to the view from Chicken's apartment window. Very young children may wonder why Cat is so dissatisfied when the city (and his devoted friend) offer so much, and those unfamiliar with graphic-novel conventions may be confused by a garden that goes from bare to blooming in a single spread. But wordless books have the advantage of embracing numerous interpretations, and there are certainly no barriers to Varon's charming, digitally colored illustrations, or to her themes of cooperation between friends and the importance of green, growing things in any community. ((Reviewed February 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Visiting Chicken, Cat is depressed by the gray urban blight surrounding Chicken's apartment. Comic-book artist Varon brings a hip, droll sensibility to this wordless picture book. While the story line is predictable (the friends plant a garden to spruce up the view), there are enough witty moments in the cleanly rendered art to make the experience of "reading" the book satisfying. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #2
When Cat visits Chicken in the city, Chicken shows the newcomer some of the local color. The two friends enjoy bike rides and ice cream in the park and taking the F-train to the beach at Coney Island, but when it's time to go back to Chicken's drab apartment, surrounded by uninspiring gray urban blight, Cat is depressed. Comic-book artist Varon brings a hip, droll sensibility to this wordless picture book that, mindful of the intended audience, never leans too far into graphic sophistication. The endearing, wide-eyed animal and human characters pedal and stroll companionably through the cityscape, which, despite Cat's initial discontent, has its own neighborhood-y appeal. The tepid story line is ultimately predictable (Cat and Chicken plant a garden to spruce up the view from Chicken's apartment), but there are enough witty moments in the cleanly rendered digital and ink art to make the experience of "reading" the book satisfying. And speaking of satisfying, the double-page spread showing Chicken and Cat relaxing in their well-tended, gorgeously colorful garden plot is ample reward for readers and characters alike. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 January #1
Artfully using color more than faces to show feeling, Varon debuts with a wordless, very simply drawn tale of a New York City chicken finding a way to make a feline visitor from the country more at home. Stepping down from the bus, Cat's first impressions of the big city come from rats and roaches, dogs, garbage and, most of all, the dull beige tones of streets and buildings all around. Though Chicken takes Cat to Central Park, and even out to Coney Island's beaches and boats, nothing lifts the mood-until, that is, Chicken and Cat buy flower and vegetable seeds to turn the empty lot visible from Cat's window into a garden. The lifting spirits are signaled by subtle changes of expression and small floral explosions of color, but it won't escape young viewers sensitive to such visual cues. A fine, deceptively simple-looking start. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 January #5

In this understated but poignant narrative sequence, whose only words appear on street signs and shops, an ochre-yellow cat comes to live with his friend, a New York City chicken. Cat disembarks at a putty-gray bus depot as Chicken waves hello, and they make their way down a sidewalk of taupe and beige. No words are spoken, but a meaningful dotted line tracks Cat's appraising gaze at some garbage cans, rats and a dog leashed to a No Parking sign. Later, Cat stares out of their walk-up apartment at a monochrome vista of buildings. Readers sense that, despite the animals' warm companionship (they buy ice-cream cones in Central Park and sun themselves at Coney Island), Cat feels alienated in this concrete habitat. Chicken remains something of a hip enigma. But when Chicken spies a daffodil in a hardware store window, the yellow and green flower reflected in Cat's pupils hints at his enchantment, and Chicken half-smiles. The two buy and plant seeds, creating a colorful garden to view from their window. Comic book artist Varon (Sweater Weather ), making her children's book debut, has a way with sweet details, such as Chicken's gentle good-night, Cat's stuffed animal collection and the feline's tail draped like a noodle over the side of his bed. Her quiet characters look equally kitschy and good-natured, and her earthy palette suits the city environment. People of all ages, perhaps especially in the five boroughs, can appreciate this charming account of roommates and community improvement. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2006 May

K-Gr 2 -In this wordless story, bold, full-bleed cartoon illustrations are amiably cluttered, well-suited to the theme of a visit to the city. Cat is alternately puzzled, saddened, and delighted by all that he sees upon arriving in New York: noisy taxis, overflowing garbage, Central Park, and Coney Island. His bliss as he basks at the beach or gazes into the park's lake is infectious. But his unease is equally affecting: Cat wants more from his friend's drab city world. Varon is sensitive, funny, and skillful as she contrasts the colorful open spaces that Cat enjoys with the muted, confined hubbub where the scuffle of rats and cockroaches competes with honking traffic. It's no wonder that Cat's expression is subdued when the friends return, after an excursion, to Chicken's apartment. The "eureka!" moment as he recognizes a solution is a pleasure to behold. This book has a funny, big-eyed sweetness, and is packed with details that kids will relish discovering in successive readings.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

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