My Cat Isis – Catherine Austen, ill. Virginie Egger

My Cat Isis – Catherine Austen, ill. Virginie Egger

Preschool to Grade 2  (Kids Can Press, 2011)

Who has never marvelled at the affinity between a goddess and a feline friend? My Cat Isis takes a loving look at the similarities and differences between an ancient Egyptian divinity and a boy’s cat. The story is a back and forth dialogue between mythology and the main character’s observations about his pet.

Egger’s artwork cleverly reflects this style. She combines paper- and photo-collage with painting and pen-and-ink illustration, furthering the multi-facetted approach.

There is also a subtle humour in both the text and artwork: Isis does not chase birds at the feeder, but rather she “protects the seeds,” and the goddess and her feline namesake cautiously regard each other across pages, a humorous visual reflection of the relationship between them.

The parallelism, however, is occasionally forced and the distinct differentiation between the two different styles of language may pose some difficulty for younger audiences. “My Isis bosses everyone around, especially the dog,” has a simplicity and a tone younger children would enjoy but, when it is juxtaposed with “At the height of her popularity, Isis was adored as the supreme protector of the ancient world,” parts of the book may be less accessible.

However, Austen very aptly conveys both information about Egyptian mythology and a depiction of the simple but complete relationship between the boy and his pet. As he says, “I love my Isis because she is my cat.”

This book would be a particularly useful classroom resource for ancient civilizations units and is recommended for children aged 5 to 8.

Review originally published in Canadian Children’s Book News, Spring 2011

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