Cat lovers are sure to be jazzed this spring as there is a wealth of great picture books releasing all featuring cats. Tundra Books is adding Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl by Susin Nielsen and Olivia Chin Mueller to their cat-alogue. The sweet story of a pampered cat whose life is unexpectedly turned around thanks to the arrival of Darryl, a new puppy. Princess Puffybottom tries her best to be rid of Darryl to no avail, until she realizes what a great friend he can be. She goes back to her mostly ideal life thinking her subjects won’t be bringing home any more surprises...little does she know.
It’s a cute little story, by an author known best for her incredible middle grade novels about acceptance. The best part about this story is its subtlety. Susin Nielsen does not blatantly have her characters extoll a moral about accepting others and new things, it’s clever and quiet, wrapped up in a silly story about a regal cat.
Olivia Chin Mueller’s illustrations help add to the richness of the text and the subtlety of the story. Throughout her beautiful illustrations you can see the goings on of the family in the background of the story. A keen eye will notice Princess Puffybottom’s subjects are both female, lovingly taking care of their beloved pets. A keen eye will also notice the progression of the family from a one cat household, to a cat and dog household and finally to a household with not only two pets but a little baby. I absolutely love how Susin Nielsen and Olivia Chin Mueller added this beautiful element to the story. There are many books out their explaining families and how families are different but not many that just feature different families in the background of a story about something else entirely. Children are able to see these things in the text and illustrations and see reflections of their families or windows into their friend’s families. We need more stories featuring diverse families, not as the focus of the story, but in the background, visible and clear.