Review – Meow Is Not a Cat by Kelly Tills
Digital Review Copy Details.
- Title: Meow Is Not A Cat
- Author: Kelly Tills
- Illustrator: Max Saladrigas
- Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
- Source: NetGalley
- Publication Date: 3 Aug 2021
- Format: ebook
The set up
The premise seemed right up my street for a children’s book – having confidence in being yourself.
Meow is a gender-neutral child who has to reiterate they are not a cat. Why they do so is baffling. Aside from the name, Meow does not resemble a cat, behave like a cat or claim they’re a cat. Perhaps it is assumption by association. A cat accompanies Meow everywhere, even on school trips. Although by the end of the book, I concluded that as inexplicable as it was, it must have been an invisible cat who could be blamed for Meow’s wild behaviour.
This is a short book, so go into any detail would be a huge spoiler. Suffice to say in word, it’s a ‘meh’ from me. To give further context – I didn’t get the storyline. The progression from one scene to the next is tenuous, the storyline wacky for the sake of it and there wasn’t any characters I could engage with.
This has nothing to do with the ’90 yet…
It wasn’t totally unenjoyable, the positives was the illustration which reminded me of early blocky Pokémon cartoons. Not sure if you were a fan or ever watched an episode, but they looked basic and bordered on terrible but somehow translated into a must watch show. Yes, every character looked the same, and somehow it didn’t matter. I think the storylines helped, going on adventures, saving the world through dueling. And Pikachu was, no is the cutest.
Why cats rule
Digression over, which brings us to the cat companion, never named, whose expressive expressions were the highlight of this book. I’m a big fan of cats, and in my eyes – despite my curses – they can do no wrong even in their selfish oblivious way.
In writing that sentence it sums up why I’m on the fence about this book. When cats are poorly behaved you can blame the fact that they are a cat. There is no dispute about how clever they are, when mixing with humans and picking up human traits. However, cats are first and foremost cats. That will never change and cats will default to their natural behaviour in more circumstances than not.
Meow is a child and they appeared to conflate unconventional, free spirit and thinker with poor listening skills and badly behaved recklessness. Being gender neutral seemed irrelevant to the story.
Your actions tell me who you are
Meow prioritised their need to do what they wanted, when they wanted often in direct opposition to authority figures or rational behaviour. Meow Is Not A Cat doesn’t show the full consequence of rashly thought out ideas or impulsive actions. And that is an interesting example to provide to impressionable children. I believe in my longwinded way what I’m trying to say is the balance was in fun. None of what they (Meow) did seemed fun. Meow did the most bizarre things just or maybe only not to follow the crowd or confirm to society’s expectations.
I won’t discuss the lack of diversity in this book because other reviews have mentioned it already and I really need to get out of the habit of writing long reviews for books that I’m not that interested in, would never recommend, nor read again. But I’ve started so I’ll finish… eventually.
It is my opinion that Meow Is Not a Cat illustrates a point of view where your cause – in this case gender is the most important construct of being human. Many others, and I cite myself in that number would disagree.
Meow Is Not a Cat is ok and by ok I mean the following: Yes but no, I didn’t get it, and maybe that ok, because I’m not the child this book is aimed at.
My thanks to Netgalley for an e-arc of this book
2 Stars - It Was Okay