Hardcover, 32 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Orchard Books (first published January 1st 2015)
Format read: ARC via publisher
Pepper is an old cat. He's set in his ways, and used to his normal routine in the house that he rules--or thinks he rules, anyway! Yup, he's got everything down to a science, including how to manipulate the house dog. That is until a new kitty named Poe comes along and starts messing up everything! Can Poe get Pepper to accept him as part of the family?
This hilarious story reinvents the age-old new sibling topic with a furry twist, taking an emotionally heavy subject and masking it with humor--all while reinforcing the days of the week! Frann Preston-Gannon, the 2011 Maurice Sendak Fellowship Award Winner, makes a stunning US picture book debut with her unique, eye-catching artwork and clever use of text.
Like many other cats of the world, Pepper has spent his entire life being the sole cat of his roost. So when new kitten Poe comes along, Pepper has a hard time adjusting to having a sibling underfoot. As the two cats try to work out their relationship, we see how Poe adjust to new family members, and learn some great lessons about family in the process!
The brilliance about Pepper & Poe is the fact that it's a book that works on so many levels. At face value, it's a fun, colorful tale about an older cat who is learning to share his space with a younger cat - something many bemused cat owners can very likely understand.
But on a greater level, Pepper & Poe is also a thoughtful tale on what it means to accept new family members into one's life. Pepper is a quintessential example of an only child, and his struggles, frustrations and staunch declarations of "I don't like it," are classic examples of a sibling who now realizes that they are not going to be the only focus in their family's eyes. Both Pepper's struggles as he deals with Poe, and their eventual brilliant detente - acheived by mutually deciding to blame an accident on a drowsy, agreeable older family dog - are classic examples of sibling rivalry, eventually maturing into a nice, agreeable relationship.
The story is accentuated by Gannon's digital illustrations, and her smart use of negative spaces. The dark background really emphasizes the warmth of the cats, and brings the action of their story to life.
Ultimately, this is a fantastic book that younger readers will both appreciate for its adorable depiction of animals, but its apt recognition of sibling relationships as well.
About the author:
Frann Preston-Gannon is a South London-based illustrator and designer. Her first picture book, The Journey Home, was published in October 2012 and has been shortlisted for both the Waterstones Children's Prize and the Cambridgeshire Read it Again book prize. It has also been shortlisted by Junior magazine for Best Picture Book and New Talent and longlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.