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Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir

Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir5 StarsAt first glance, Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir by Terese Jungle is, on the surface, a children’s picture book about a woman and her cat. It’s a memoir of the author’s life as well as a beautiful memory of her cat, Chicken. But it’s also a book adult readers will enjoy not only for the delightful art but also for the greater story of TJ’s life. I’m a reader who enjoys graphic novels, and the further I got into the story, the more I realized this was more than just a children’s book. The art, the words, and the doodle-like notes in the margins are where TJ celebrates her journey as an artist and a friend to many other creative people.

TJ grew up allergic to cats, but over time, the allergy faded. Now an adult, she dreams of a tuxedo cat with bright green eyes and when she can’t find the cat at the local shelter, her friend Mimi announces that the cat must be looking for her. Of course, the cat finds TJ and they are a perfect fit for each other. The cat, named Chicken, follows TJ on her journey through life, sometimes at her side and sometimes in the care of others. But, like all pets, Chicken’s life comes to an end, and TJ and her daughter have to deal with it. It’s a beautiful, tenderly told story that’s appropriate for both children and adults.

I can see why the author calls this, “A great book to read to cats (and kids).” The illustrations are delightful, even child-like. The book would be a good way to help young children talk about their feelings about the loss of a beloved pet. But if you pay attention to all the little doodles, background decoration and the notes scattered throughout the illustrations, there’s a second story brewing that’s just for adults. Look carefully, there are little gems buried in the details of the illustrations!

TJ’s story is woven into the pictures, including multiple moves, hinting at the unsettled lifestyle of an artist and student. There are also cat fights, both feline and human, with one side note, “They didn’t stay friends for long” that will make any cat-lover snicker with recognition. The author also takes great care to include the people who were important to her life in the illustrations. At the end, there’s a listing of notes (marked with asterisks in the story) that give a little more insight into the people, artwork, cat behavior and poetry that appear in the book.

I recommend this for parents to read to their children, but be warned. If you are a “cat person” read it through the first time by yourself because (as they say on the internet) it will hit you right in the feels.

Pages: 82 | ISBN: 0976203510

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