A cat called Spot escapes through a window and takes a leisurely walk through the city while his owner, a little boy, follows close behind looking for him unsuccessfully. We, the readers, are invited to search for Spot too, but this isn’t as easy as it might seem.
Drawn in densely cross-hatched black-and-white lines, the illustrations are tightly constructed, alternating between busy spreads, packed with houses, shops, people and vehicles, and smaller close-up vignettes of Spot and the boy. There really is so much to see – and potentially ‘hear’ – that some serious searching is required to find the lost cat.
But even if you find Spot hard to locate, you can still enjoy taking in all the details of city life that this clever American illustrator has included in his images. For instance there are workmen painting buildings, delivery people dropping off their wares, dog walkers striding along with their pooches, children buzzing by on scooters, market traders selling their fruit and veg, binmen collecting the rubbish, lovers idling along the canal, and sunbathers, joggers and kite flyers all enjoying a sunny day in the park.
If you were sharing this book with a young child you could be forgiven for forgetting to spot Spot, as there are just so many activities to discuss. In fact it would probably take you a very long time to get to the end. But this book is not just a spotting exercise – there is a genuinely emotional story at its heart with a small boy fearing that his beloved pet could be lost for ever. Thankfully, due to the cat’s natural love of home comforts, there is the perfect happy ending.
There is so much to recommend this book – the gorgeous, well-observed, beautifully drawn illustrations, the heart-warming portrayal of the close relationship between the boy and his pet, and the educational play opportunities embedded in its hide-and-seek game. But what I really love about this story is the cat’s typically feline independence. It’s not bothered about anyone looking for it – it just does what cats always do, and quietly goes its own way.