Axel Scheffler may be better known for illustrating the Julia Donaldson Gruffalo series. However, he has branched out to draw pictures for earlier works, including the T.S. Eliot cat poems. Scheffler has produced a marvellous edition, fit to stand alongside the previous illustrated editions of the whole book, and it even compares favourably to the darker-hued Erol LeCain illustrations for five of the poems. Scheffler's illustrations are kid-friendly but yet they don't condescend or become overly cute and childish. It is a shame if grown-up readers aren't taken by the illustrations, but grown-ups can appreciate picture book treatments of old classics as well as the next child.
His treatment of the poems is so different from the previous illustrations for these poems. The cats are seen as more adorable and cuddly here, but it doesn't become cute and condescending. Yet Scheffler's drawings are nuanced so that he finds room to make Growltiger sinister, except when he is courting Griddlebone. The illustrations are in vignettes and accompany the poems in their various stages. The Bentley and Gorey editions tended to have one or two large plates for each poem. Occasionally he illustrates individual lines, such as the fakir who stares at Macavity when he levitates. I also like his sequence of pictures that play like a succession of scenes when the poems can't provide any words. I see this twice, during the Rum Tum Tugger and the Pekes and the Pollicles. One really likes the sequence of vignettes that accompany the muddle that the Tugger poses when he disrupts a housewife's sewing chores.
I would have liked it if individual lines had had their own illustrations and it would have been good for the text to wrap itself around the pictures. For instance it would have been good if Scheffler had drawn Growltiger attacking each of the animals and creatures in his path. I'm not saying this to upset the dignity of the original book. It would be more interesting in a picture book if there were more interaction between text and illustration, even for classics like this.
I tend to like this better than the Bentley and Gorey editions, and this edition is really well worth it. The binding is of a very high quality and the pictures are printed on thick semi-gloss paper. One really feels assured that you get all the poems, even including Cat Morgan.
I hope that one day that Quentin Blake could do an illustrated edition of the Practical Cats poems. His temperament would be suitable for this material.
birthday gift for a friend who is a cats addict. he and his wife take part in a special event called feel the force for all types of peple of all types of ages to go to, this years theme is cats so all the books are used, costumes with textures etc. so not only is this a gift for him personally but a piece of the event.
Bought for my seven year old after having taken her to see cats the musical. She enjoyed me reading it but I then found out there are more kid friendly versions with pictures which I think might have been a better option
Bought this book for my daughter's boyfriend because he has cats but he hasn't read it yet. I told him the poems are used as songs in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. I have a book of T S Eliot alrwady but if he doesn't read it soon I may ssk for it back!