Square Cat

By Elizabeth Schoonmaker; Elizabeth Schoonmaker (Illustrator)
(Aladdin, Hardcover, 9781442406193, 32pp.)

Publication Date: January 4, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover

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Description

Eula is the only square cat in town. Everything that normal cats do is hard for her -- she can't get her square paw into mouseholes, she can't wear her favorite circle skirt, and all of her friends are round! Eula is sad until her two best friends show her just how well a square cat can fit into this round world.




About the Author

Elizabeth Schoonmaker received her Master of Arts degree from the University at Albany and has exhibited her work in Chicago and New York. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, John. Together they garden, bike, ski, build elephant sculptures and keep bees. Elizabeth has two daughters, Mackenzie and Sayward, and a gray cat, Stanleigh. This is her first picture book.




Praise For Square Cat

Eula is a square cat that wants to be round. After all, it’s hard to be a quadratic shape—one can’t wear stripes, circle skirts don’t fit and when one falls over it’s nearly impossible to get up. Patsy and Maude, two oval cats, attempt to help their boxy friend with a makeover, but nothing can disguise the self-conscious, four-sided cat. With a change of perspective, the three learn the beauty of being square, and Eula finds contentment. Schoonmaker’s illustrations, done in pale, pastel watercolors with penwork to define shapes, are simple and consistent. They offer a hint of the Southwest: Eula is almost adobe in color, there are primitive shapes and patterns and the stylization of the animals evokes the aesthetic of Native Americans of the region. The artwork is extremely flat and unfortunately lacks dimension or excitement, but it is friendly and accessible. The author’s real strength is in how she juxtaposes the earnestness of the characters with the silliness of the situation. An easygoing entrée to learning about diverse viewpoints and experiences among peers. - KIRKUS, November 15, 2010

Square Cat

Elizabeth Schoonmaker, S&S/Aladdin, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-0619-3

Eula is square in the literal sense--she's drawn as a box with cat features. Her round, bubbly friends Patsy and Maude work hard to help Eula feel better about her shape. They try thinking round thoughts, but singing "Oooooooooooo..." while skipping in circles and eating doughnuts only emphasizes Eula's essential squareness. Next they dress as squares themselves, wearing boxes, tipping over when Eula does (Eula's always tipping over), and dressing Eula in flattering clothing (a checkerboard sweater and pillbox hat). Schoonmaker, in her debut, readily grasps the comic interplay of words and pictures. "Eula was invisible in a city" is accompanied by a drawing of Eula sitting in front of (and blending in with) a group of skyscrapers; "And her favorite circle skirt didn't quite fit right" shows Eula with the same aggrieved expression awash in swirling red fabric. The focus is on physical appearance, with an emphasis on clothing and accessories that's most likely to appeal to the fashion conscious, yet Eula's feelings of difference make a ready metaphor for other ways in which readers might feel like the odd person out. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

--Publishers Weekly, November 8, 2010

PreS-Gr 1–Playing off the square peg in the round hole theme, this title gently packs a powerful message about self-acceptance and friendship. Eula, a square cat, laments the difficulties she faces in a world of round cats. When she tips over, it’s difficult to get up. Living in a city surrounded by square buildings renders her invisible. Circle skirts or outfits with stripes are a “fashion don’t” on a square cat, and trying to “make it work” is not an option. Her round feline friends, Patsy and Maude, try to help sad Eula get her “purr” back. After a makeover including round hoop earrings, a beehive hat, rouge painted on her cheeks, and a doughnut party, Eula falls again, and....you get the picture. Her friends put themselves into square boxes and show her the possibilities and upside of living the square-cat life. Ink and bright watercolor illustrations using basic shapes with simple and engaging facial expressions steal the show. Schoonmaker uses the shapes of these clever cats’ mouths, eyes, and eyebrows to communicate their emotions. Eula changes from skeptical, to happy, to confident. The support of loving friends and her experience figuring out how to “make it work” for herself are the catalysts. Plentiful white space is used to help the colorful blue, orange, and yellow cats pop off the page. This delightful book with its spare and simple text is perfect for storytime or sharing one-on-one.–Anne Beier, Clifton Public Library, NJ

-SLJ January 2011

PreS-Gr 1–Playing off the square peg in the round hole theme, this title gently packs a powerful message about self-acceptance and friendship. Eula, a square cat, laments the difficulties she faces in a world of round cats. When she tips over, it’s difficult to get up. Living in a city surrounded by square buildings renders her invisible. Circle skirts or outfits with stripes are a “fashion don’t” on a square cat, and trying to “make it work” is not an option. Her round feline friends, Patsy and Maude, try to help sad Eula get her “purr” back. After a makeover including round hoop earrings, a beehive hat, rouge painted on her cheeks, and a doughnut party, Eula falls again, and....you get the picture. Her friends put themselves into square boxes and show her the possibilities and upside of living the square-cat life. Ink and bright watercolor illustrations using basic shapes with simple and engaging facial expressions steal the show. Schoonmaker uses the shapes of these clever cats’ mouths, eyes, and eyebrows to communicate their emotions. Eula changes from skeptical, to happy, to confident. The support of loving friends and her experience figuring out how to “make it work” for herself are the catalysts. Plentiful white space is used to help the colorful blue, orange, and yellow cats pop off the page. This delightful book with its spare and simple text is perfect for storytime or sharing one-on-one.–Anne Beier, Clifton Public Library, NJ

-SLJ January 2011

Schoonmaker, Elizabeth

Square Cat

Aladdin, 2011 32p ISBN 978-1-4424-0619-3 $14.99 R 4-7 yrs

Eula is a square cat who longs to be round like her two best friends Patsy and Maude. After all, “life wasn’t easy for a square cat”: she becomes invisible amid geometric city buildings, her circle skirt doesn’t fit her right, and when she tips over, she can’t get herself back up. Patsy and Maude attempt to cheer her up with an array of round things (hoop earrings, red rouge spots on cheeks, doughnuts) but nothing helps . . . until Patsy and Maude dress up in boxes and make themselves square cats alongside their friend, pointing out all the virtues of squareness (“Square cats are easy to stack, are natural billboards, and are excellent square dancers”). This is a gently humorous friendship tale that touches on themes of self-esteem and difference while keeping the tone light and playful. Since Patsy and Maude are most successful in cheering up their friend not when they try to make Eula feel more round but when they help her to see how great it is to be square, there is a quiet lesson in self-acceptance embedded in their triumph. Schoonmaker’s line-and-watercolor illustrations offer clean, geometrically inspired compositions, and her simple line details work to great effect, particularly with Eula’s facial expressions; there’s enough flair with the palette, though, that the two-dimensionality never becomes boring.

The sly humor in the illustrations perfectly matches that of the narrative, and Eula’s trials and tribulations are sure to tickle the funny bones of listeners of all shapes and sizes. HM

--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 2011

Square Cat.

Schoonmaker, Elizabeth (Author) , Schoonmaker, Elizabeth (Illustrator)

Square-shaped feline Eula bemoans the disadvantages of her shape: when she tips over, she can’t get up; her circle skirt doesn’t fit properly; and wearing stripes is disastrous. Roundish friends Patsy and Maude do their best to encircle her with loops, presenting her with hoop earrings, rouge cheek circles, doughnuts, and a beehive hat. Failing to alter Eula’s shape (or attitude), the friends slip into boxes themselves in an attempt to uncover four-sided advantages Eula has missed. Schoonmaker’s debut picture book, rendered in pencil and bright watercolors, highlights appealing orange-kitten Eula presented against mostly white backgrounds. Young listeners and cat lovers alike will laugh at the absurdity of cats in neatly stacked boxes, not to mention Eula in square-dance attire. Kids may enjoy searching for the squares and circles within the art, but Patsy and Maude’s empathy with Eula in light of her difficulties is what makes the story memorable. Pair with Lydia Monks’ The Cat Barked? (1999) for another look at the advantages of self-acceptance.

— Kay Weisman

BOOKLIST, February 1, 2011

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