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Review: Kitty & Dino

An aloof house cat is in for a surprise when her family’s son brings home an amazing find — a dinosaur egg! Kitty’s not sure that a baby dinosaur makes a good companion, but who can resist those pleading eyes?

Kitty & Dino
Sara Richard
Ages 3-6
Yen Press, April 2012, ISBN 978-0-31613351-7
48 pages, $16.99

On their website, Yen Press has this to say about Kitty & Dino: “Featuring the unique, unforgettable artwork of Sara Richard!” And never have truer marketing words been spoken. Richard’s art is a marvel to behold. Everything is drawn in thick black lines that swirl and twirl to create the images. There are some straight lines, but many times the straight lines — including the panel borders — are overlaid with additional scrolls that twist and dart around them, giving everything a sense of living, breathing movement. Companion lines in white augment the black and those white lines bring with them flecks and splatters of white, which dust over the images like stars. Everything is painted in warm, muted jewel tones and the combination of all of the artistic elements results in pages that a reminiscent of Tiffany glass, but with the right amount of modernity to fit the story.

And what is truly fascinating about Kitty & Dino is that Richards pairs her magnificent art with a deceptively simple tale. The cat meets the dinosaur baby. The cat rejects the dinosaur baby. The cat finally accepts the dinosaur baby. The dinosaur baby grows up and acts like a cat. It’s simple and it’s funny and it’s cute. There are almost no words, other than the opening and closing lines from the boy and the occasional grumble of a hungry tummy. But the simplicity of the basically wordless tale works because of Richard’s skill with the graphic novel medium. She knows how to move her characters from one panel to the next and from one event to the next smoothly. She understands how to use large and small panels and when to overlap them for the best effect. And she certainly knows how to show the passage of time within a graphic novel. One lone houseplant is the timekeeper of the book. At first read it seems to be merely page or “set” decoration, but upon re-reads I realized that it was gradually growing and changing, allowing me to understand the passage of time in the story.

By pairing her luminous art with her charming and gently silly story, Richards creates a masterpiece. Children, especially those who have and love pets, will laugh at the antics of the cat and the dinosaur. Parents will be thrilled to find such beautiful and highly skilled art to expose their children to. Richards should be justifiably proud of what she’s created and I certainly look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Yen Press.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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