7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #523: Featuring Holly Hobbie

h1 February 26th, 2017 by jules


Today, I’ve got some art from Holly Hobbie’s newest book, A Cat Named Swan (Random House, February 2017). 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.

And that’s it. There are no more plot turns; it’s a story of home, comfort, safety. It’s a story of metamorphosis, finding family — and a story of unconditional love. Hobbie shows the kitten’s life from varying perspectives—check out the one below from the point of view of the family members, eager to take home their new, albeit shocked, pet—and the palette is warm and sunny. The Kirkus review notes: “While the unadorned text relies on language reflecting Swan’s sensory and emotional responses, Hobbie’s realistic pencil-and-watercolor illustrations provide visual details of his transition from the dingy grays, blacks, and browns of dirty city alleys to the glorious full-color countryside.” It’s beautiful.

Here are some more spreads. …


“The streets were a place of constant danger.”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“Then the boredom ended. He was swept up. There were voices and laughter.
There was motion and sunshine and blue sky. He was swept away.”

(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“… After breakfast, he bounded into the outdoors,
if it wasn’t raining or snowing, to make his usual rounds …”

(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)



Illustrations by Holly Hobbie from A CAT NAMED SWAN by Random House Books for Young Readers.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Storytime yesterday with a room full of kids.


3) This illustration in Brian Biggs’ new board book, I’m a Librarian (coming to shelves in March):



Looks like this male librarian might have a husband. Which is to say: Yay for inclusion.

4) Arrival.

5) Manchester by the Sea. (It’s a crushingly sad film—HAVE MERCY, LONERGAN—but so well-made.)

6) A morning-long visit with a friend.

7) This new podcast is INTRIGUING.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #523: Featuring Holly Hobbie”

  1. Thank you for sharing Holly Hobbie’s new book. I love those eyes on Swan and that it has a Corgi. And that it’s a story about a furever home.
    Jules, I want to see Manchester by the Sea. Yes, that pod cast does looks interesting.
    My kicks:
    1. Excellent workshop on digital Literacy.
    2. Crocuses.
    3. Time with friends.
    4. Dinner with Chuck.
    5. Sunshine.
    6. Poetry Friday.
    7. Lunchtime in the library with students.
    Have a great week.

  2. How I love Holly Hobbie’s work! Thank you for sharing it here (definitely I am a cat fan and will be looking for Swan) and in the packed-full-of-wonderful linked post with Hansel and Gretel. She’s now on my list of favorites!

    We recently took in The Arrival as well and enjoyed it. And the planet discovery is amazing!

    Jone, sunshine and crocuses always make me happy!

    1. Snow one day and sunshine the next
    2. Two brand new babies in the extended family in one week!
    3. A productive week
    4. Hubby
    5. Yummy meal out for late Valentine’s celebration
    6. Deep clearance merchandise this time of year!
    7. Home

  3. Good afternoon, Imps! Hello to Swan and Holly and company! My initial reaction upon seeing that first image:


    Jules: I’m glad you had fun at storytime!

    Jone: Crocuses are pretty.

    Dow: If “Snow & Sunshine” isn’t already a picture book title (or a folk album), it should be.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Publications
    2) Friends adopting new pets!
    3) Podcasts
    4) Periodicals
    5) Perimeters
    6) Performances
    7) Peruse

  4. More tomorrow, promise!

  5. I’m here. Sorry for the delay!

    Jone; Hello to Chuck! And you already have crocuses? (I assumed it’d take longer where you live, whereas here it feels like full-on Spring.)

    Dow: Babies! I long for someone to, say, move in next door with a baby I can occasionally borrow. … I like that last kick too.

    Little Willow: Which podcasts do you recommend?

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