In this picture book import, first published last year in Italy, Silvia Borando tells the story of two cats who befriend one another and explore their worlds together. A minimalistic treat, it’s illustrated with simple shapes and in only black and white (with a dash of color at the end).
Black Cat has always been entirely black, and White Cat has always been entirely white. Black Cat only goes out during the day, a black shadow against a white sky, while he watches the black swallows fly through the air. White Cat only goes out at night, a white shape standing out on a spread of black, with only twinkling white stars to accompany her. When Black Cat decides to head out into the night, White Cat decides the same—Black Cat heading right, and White Cat heading back toward the book’s cover. Naturally, they meet in the middle. They hit it off, and each follows the other into the part of the day that's unexplored. The night, Black Cat learns, is full of wonder. And the day, White Cat learns, is full of surprises.
Also full of surprises is the book’s close: The two felines become so inseparable that they have six kittens. “And can you guess what color they are?” Borando directly asks the reader. If you think black-and-white, you’re mistaken, but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own. (Hint: The punctuation on the cover gives it away in a clever moment of book design.)
Borando uses pleasing repetition in both text and illustrations to tell this story of balance and friendship. Preschoolers will be particularly enthralled as they take in the many yins and yangs of this story from overseas. They may be inspired to create their own story of opposites with simple shapes and unfussy lines.
This one is the cat’s meow.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.