Thursday, May 14, 2020

Review - A Stray

A Stray
by Michael Wang
illustrated by Neal Sharp
Date: 2016
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

A Stray is a story about Myra-Lou who longs to have a stray cat for a pet. Her parents are appalled and her brother is disgusted. But Myra-Lou is insistent. After much haggling and a twist of fortune, Myra-Lou finally gets her stray. This is a story that deals with the irrational attachment that children can have over a dream or an object, and the extent that a family would go to to reach a compromise without abandoning their principles.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is the second book I've read from this author, who apparently bases his picture book characters on his own kids. I have to say, I don't think his children are going to appreciate this when they're older, because they're coming across as weird. In Liam, the Brave we met a boy who was afraid of butterflies. In A Stray, we meet Liam's sister, Myra-Lou, who is obsessed with having a stinky, flea-ridden stray cat as a pet.

I just couldn't understand why Myra-Lou wanted something so disgusting. Yes, kids can get weird notions in their heads. I thought maybe there would've been some message about giving love to the creatures that need it most. There is, but it's subtle. Myra-Lou is mostly just obsessed with having something disgusting (as evidenced by the way she puts her toy cat on the window sill in the rain to let it get dirty, wet, and smelly). I'm also not a fan of the way her parents bought a cat for her at the pet store. Even the note at the end doesn't really discourage this; it mentions adoption as an option, but doesn't highlight the fact that pets bought from pet stores encourage things like puppy mills and irresponsible breeding.

The illustrations are really cute, which is why my rating isn't lower. But I just can't get past this weird kid who wants a dirty, smelly, flea-ridden stray cat to cuddle.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.67 out of 5

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