I’m a cat lady. What can I say, I’m a librarian, it pretty much comes with the territory.
I’m also a children’s librarian, which means I’m always on the hunt for new picture books. So, any time that a cat-themed picture book appears on my radar, I am a very happy camper indeed.
On the surface there’s really nothing all that special about Pepper & Poe, by Frann Preston-Gannon. An older cat’s comfortable, stable life is turned upside down by the arrival of a kitten. The older cat wants to be left alone, the kitten wants to play, tempers flare. This is a sibling rivalry tale in furry form, and has been told in different ways countless times before.
What makes Pepper & Poe so much fun is its twist ending, in which the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes endearingly into play. When Pepper and Poe accidentally make a big mess, they point the blame at the poor unsuspecting family dog, thus cementing their newfound friendship.
Now, Pepper & Poe is a sibling rivalry tale with cats standing in for children, and so of course it has to show the two characters forging a new alliance, because no parent wants to read a story in which the two children/cats retain their simmering animosities.
Still, as with most of these stories, I really can’t help feeling sorry for poor old Pepper, the older sibling/cat. This cat owner certainly hasn’t researched the most effective means of introducing a kitten to an older cat (or a baby to an older sibling, for that matter). Pepper’s life is thrown upside down in an instant, with no preparation or warning – no wonder his nose is out of joint! All he wants is a bit of peace and quiet, and little Poe just can’t respect that need for personal space. Who can’t relate to poor Pepper? I’d be pretty cross, too!
Still, with its twist ending, Pepper & Poe brings some cheeky humour to the sibling rivalry genre, and is sure to delight young readers, especially those of us who think that cats rule and dogs drool!