Review: Nat the Cat Takes a Nap
Nat the Cat Takes a Nap
By Jarrett Lerner
Simon Spotlight, 2023, $17.99
While Nat the Cat is classified as “ready to read” by the publisher, the book could also pass as an early reader graphic novel. There aren’t panels here, but readers could think of each page as its own panel. There are word balloons and much of the style screams comics.
Reminiscent in style of Moe Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books, this is the story of a cat (yes his name is Nat) who would like to take a nap and is constantly interrupted by the narrator and unable to do so. For me, this was a laugh-out-loud type of story. And I tested this with an early reader (my son) who laughed a lot too.
In fact, not only was my son gleeful because it was funny, he was thrilled to fluently read a book. The words are very basic (for the most part) for an emerging reader… but there is also a lot of room to teach children how to read the pictures. On our first go-round, my son concentrated on the text, but I noticed he was working so hard on the text that the next time I covered the words and asked him to “read” the picture.
“Let’s read the pictures. Look at Nat,” I said. “Look at his eyes. What do you see?” My son focused on the picture and then on the next round, he was putting it all together.
So – no – not a traditional graphic novel with panels. And if I worked in a library with this age group, I don’t know if I’d place it with the comics, but an argument could be made.
The artwork is super simple in a brilliant way. Jarrett Lerner consistently makes me feel like I can draw that too. (Actually, he has a ton of tutorials and free resources on his page that do make children believe they can do that too.) I don’t believe more than 5 colors are used, and each page has lots of white space, so the book is not intimidating at all for emerging readers.
My older daughter was reading over our shoulders and commented, “This reminds me of the Elephant and Piggie books.” They were a staple in our reading repertoire when she was her younger brother’s age. I had already thought of it, but this could work with older readers who would like to compare an author’s craft and look for similarities.
This is a no-lose title. Borrow it from the library. Buy a copy for your personal collection or buy it for your library shelf.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at William E. Grady CTE HS in Brooklyn, NY. In addition, she curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics and worked in the same middle school library for 20 years.
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