19 March, 2013

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street - Review and Giveaway (US ends 3/30)

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street
Illustrated by Francesca Carabelli
Publication date: 1 Jan 2013 from Kar-Ben Publishing
ISBN 10/13: 0761381244 | 9780761381242

Join Ann for the launch party at Children's Book World

Category: Picture book
Keywords: Cats, neighbors, friends, compassion
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Source: Finished copy for review

Things are always the same on Ben Yehuda Street--cats, cats, cats everywhere--and boy do they love Mr. Modiano's store, the Tel Aviv Fish Palace! His neighbor, Mrs. Spiegel, loves to knit and spend time with her cat Ketzie. Ketzie shares fish from Mr. Modiano's shop with her friend Gatito. But old Mr. Modiano hates the cats as much as they love his shop. "Lo, lo, lo," he says, always declining Mrs. Spiegel's invitations to tea. All he wants to do is shoo the cats away (who never listen, by the way!) until one day, Ketzie goes missing. Uh oh!

I have to tell you first about how biased I am in reviewing this book. One, I am a cat lover and a knitter like Mrs. Spiegel. I have my own little gray cat (though she has more stripes than Ketzie). Two, I am friends with Ann. I designed her website and I think she is such a fun storyteller! Three, I love fish, of which there is quite a lot in this book. If I were to hold a storytime event for this I would probably serve kippered herring, lox (smoked salmon), and maybe seared garlic tuna, mmmmm! Though all but the most discerning little kids would probably prefer this kind of fish instead:

... not real fish

I loved the story and think it would make a great read-aloud for grandparents and grandkids together. I predict lots of meowing and "Lo, lo, lo"ing! Lots of little clues in the illustrations reveal details about everyday life in Israel, so there's a lot to point out and explain, whether one is familiar with the culture or not. The reader might wonder at Mr. Modiano's mode of transportation, what he's wearing on his head (it took me a couple of reads to figure out it wasn't a beret!), and maybe what Mrs. Spiegel is baking. Most importantly, what could have happened to Ketzie?

Themes like friendship, compassion, and generosity make this a gentle bedtime read. But while I like Carabelli's simple and sweet cat illustrations and painterly backgrounds, there's a certain level of detail I felt was missing. Maybe it's the knitter in me, always trying to spot drawings of yarn and knitted objects, but aside from a couple of balls of yarn, I couldn't really believe Mrs. Spiegel was much of a knitter, and that was a bit disappointing. The colors are also very muted and almost muddy for the most part. But I do like the little fish all over Mr. Modiano's shirt! 

Ann is giving away a copy of The Cats of Ben Yehuda and her picture book from last year, The Wooden Sword! To enter, just comment below and answer:

What is your favorite folktale?

This giveaway is open internationally! 

We hope you'll join us for the rest of the blog tour as well. 

Mon - March 18 - Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy 

Tue - March 19 - Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later 

Wed - March 20 - Gail at Nightengail Art 

Thu - March 21 - Danielle at There's a Book

Fri - March 22 - Wendy at Noodling with Words 

Sat - March 23 - The Cats on Ben Yehuda Launch Party at Children's Book World, Los Angeles

Mon - March 25 - Julie Rowan-Zoch 

Tue - March 26 - Joanna at Miss Marple's Musings 

Wed - March 27 - Niki at Daydream Reader 

Thu - March 28 - Cynthia at Teaching in Cute Shoes 

Fri - March 29 - Colby at Sharpread

For more about the author, visit www.annstampler.com/pb and follow her on Twitter @annstampler as well as  +Ann Stampler on Google+. 

Thanks to all of our lovely tour hosts for taking the time to read and review The Wooden Sword and The Cats on Ben Yehuda!

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