Today, I’ve got some art from Holly Hobbie’s newest book, A Cat Named Swan (Random House, February 2017). Evidently, Hobbie’s real name is Denise Holly Ulinskas. This is one for pet-lovers of all stripes, but especially cat fans — and a story about pet-adoption that is sweet but never saccharine. (P.S. I still can’t get over Hobbie’s Hansel and Gretel from 2015. SO CREEPY-GOOD. There’s art from it here at 7-Imp in a conversation about scary books I had with Betsy Bird, Travis Jonker, and Minh Lê.)
(Also, it’s always so bizarre for me to even type “Holly Hobbie,” since my favorite doll as a kid—like, I never let it go and it ended up with this warped and misshapen rubber face from all my hugging—was a Holly Hobbie doll.)
I love how A Cat Named Swan opens: “Then he was alone.” Hobbie drops us right into the center of a story with little to no context about how a kitten ends up deserted. But that context doesn’t matter: The crux of the story is that the kitten’s family is suddenly gone, and he is stuck alone on dangerous streets. He ends up in a shelter and actually quite likes it. (“The new place was safe. Boredom was better than misery.”) And then it happens: He is “swept away” by a family, who names him Swan and calls him Swansie, and acclimates to his new home and surroundings.