Saturday 4 December 2021

Cato’s Can Can

Cato’s Can Can by Juliet Sampson & Katrina Fisher (Ford Street Publishing) PB RRP $24.95 ISBN 978 1 925804768

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Cato the cockatoo loves to dance. But he can’t find a dance partner friend. Along the way he makes some unexpected discoveries about friendship and dance.

Juliet Sampson has used patterning, repetition, and onomatopoeia to create a great read aloud picture book. She uses days of the week as a pattern, and a child will love joining in with the story as they anticipate the next day. On Monday, he spies a dancer, spinning like a lyrebird. Spin! Spin! Spin!  Children will enjoy doing the actions that go with the words. This is clever as it not only creates interaction, but the child is able to anticipate both the word and dance action.

The story introduces different types of Australian birds and links a dance to their natural movement. On Thursday, he sees four dancers twirl and leap like brolgas. Leap! Leap! Leap! Once Cato discovers the dance school he decides to go inside, and this introduces more learning about dance. In hip-hop class they spin, spin, spin. Bop! Bop! In jazz class they bop, bop, bop. I love how the story encourages a child to think about a dance they might like. The use of strong verbs makes this text shine. Sampson has created a book that celebrates the fun and freedom of dancing with a lovable character.

Katrina Fisher’s bright yellow cover is not only eye-catching but matches the bright vibrant world of dance. Immediately, we see Cato on the cover and music. Anyone who loves music and dance will be drawn to this book. Fisher’s ability to showcase the dance movements of both the birds and children is beautifully and realistically done. She has captured the vibrant personality of Cato as a cockatoo and realistically created cockatoo movements. I love the simplicity of the white backgrounds with the drawings and watercolours allowing the movements of dance to shine across the spreads. We see zooms in and out to give different perspectives. Katrina Fisher is brilliant at capturing personality with facial expressions and body movements. I love the double spread where the four dancers leap like brolgas. The brolgas and children stand beside each other and mirror the same graceful movements and flexibility. She captures the joyfulness of dance and self-expression. The illustrations compliment the text beautifully and add layered meaning to the story.

Cato’s Can Can is a bright and happy read for children 3-6 years. It is a perfect gift for any child who is interested in dance. I can see this book being used in preschools and primary schools as a great teacher resource. This is a book that is lots of fun and clever.

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