It is very, very rare that I write about a book without having that book in front of me.
This is a book I love and have given to over half-a-dozen kids so far. And since I keep giving it away, I don’t have it in front of me.
And last night I had a guest over and we were (rather, I was) talking about books for the potential small child expected in said guest’s life (I may have burbled excitedly for a while). I named many you’ve come to expect from me, but also a new one:
Goodnight, Rainbow Cats, by Bàrbara Castro Urío. (Link to the Brookline Booksmith because: a) it’s in stock there and not everywhere, and b) they’re my local book shop and I love them.)
Just looking at that cover makes me want to buy it all over again.
This is a subtle book. It’s not a big, explosive story. It’s not a bubbling cauldron of emotions. It’s not LOUD.
That’s exactly what I love about it. And why I keep buying it for every baby and toddler I meet.
You see, I don’t know whether you know this about me, but I actually love quiet. (Hide your surprise.) I’m not a fan of crowds and conventions, exactly, unless I have approximately two people to talk to away from the action. And while I like books that bubble with emotions and plot and character and activity—
I love books that accomplish the same thing in a subtle, quiet, maybe quirky and creative way.
This is that. It’s a book about cats going to bed. That’s it.
But as each little coloured cat comes up to the big white house, each bright hue popping, one at a time, against the white background… that’s a little, tiny pop of excitement. And the reader discovers in each little cat a little cat’s story. The Crimson Cat is yawning. Little Dark-Blue Cat is ready for bed. You turn the page, slowly, admiring each coloured kitty…. and discover where each cat goes to sleep! Then you turn the final page and, wow! There’s a page of ALL THE CATS sleeping in their little nooks!
The whole book is quietly animated by minute peek-holes to enchant little ones– and probably older readers, too, if we’re being honest.
Hear me now: Quiet does not have to mean boring. And this book proves it.
It is clever, it is beautiful, it is exciting, it is creative, it is enchanting. And I think it belongs in every child’s bedroom.
I really hope we get to see more work from Bàrbara Castro Urío.