Review: Hard Hat Cat
Hard Hat Cat! by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh, illustrated by Maxine LeeCategory: Picture Books
Reviewer: Mirele Kessous
This picture book tells the story of how a stray cat, who hangs out at a construction site in Israel, comes to find his forever home. The story is told from the perspective of Ari, a young boy who notices the cat but whose mom won’t let him keep it. Children will be able to relate to Ari’s desire to keep the stray animal and they will follow along as Ari visits all of his neighbors, trying to entice them to adopt the cat.
Kiffel-Alcheh’s writing is an unusual blend of poetry, prose, and sounds. While the plot will appeal to children as old as 8, the writing contains onomatopoeic words geared towards a much younger audience ("meow meow, bzz bzz!, bang bang," etc.). Some older children might be put off by that. Still, the pacing of the story is engaging, and Kiffel Alcheh incorporates Hebrew vocabulary as well as characters unique to Israel (the boreka man, for instance). The ending is also quite clever, and older readers will appreciate the nuance of it.
Maxine Lee’s illustrations are lively and bright, and her stray cats are absolutely charming. The bold colors and relative simplicity of the pictures will appeal to the preschool set, in particular.
It seems that the author was trying to appeal to all ages from babies through early elementary school. Was she successful? I think, overall, yes. Hard Hat Cat makes an excellent read-aloud for families with children in a range of ages.
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