A trend in the books I’ve borrowed very recently from the library; there are lots of cats mentioned in picture books. Is it because cats are adorable, warm, and fuzzy? Because it’s so wonderful to characterize them? Because pictures of smiling cats are the second best thing in the world? (next to a loving family of course).
To all of the above, yes. I love picture books with cats in them. Possibly because I never had a cat when I was a little kid because my brother is horribly allergic to them. And they are essentially warm, furry, purring machines that have an affinity for naps in the sun. But anyhow, the picture book Picasso and Minou (written by P.I. Maltbie and illustrated by Pau Estrada) is an exaggeration of the true story of Pablo Picasso and his pet cat. I love historical picture books, because I feel like there’s nothing more impressive than a child who knows that Picasso had a pet cat named Minou (french for kitty, which is just adorable). As they say, learn from history or repeat it; too much of our generation has no idea how hard their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and others worked to create the world that there is today. And while we still have famine, war, and political unrest, we are riding the wave of the greatest technological and scientific discovery in human history. Doesn’t that make you feel just a little bit proud?
As a child, while it’s great to fantasize about unicorns and fairies, it was also incredible to be able to put yourself in the shoes of great people such as Cleopatra, Princess Diana, Einstein, and even Picasso. To be able to create a world in which a child can walk in the footsteps of someone great, where a child can be someone great, if only for the space of a picture book, that is truly a great gift.
So even though this is a story about an artist and his cat; about two friends who encouraged each other and believed in each other, who inspired one another to believe in a beauty that the world had yet to see, how wonderful to give that to a child.
And even though parts may not be true (Minou did not singly inspire Picasso’s Rose Period, as the book implies, and later clarifies in the notes) to give a child a foundation upon which to raise their own imaginations and hopes is truly great.
And the pictures of smiling cats in the book are worth their weight in smiles alone. 🙂