Tohby Riddle’s Astronaut’s Cat

Tohby Riddle, The Astronaut’s Cat (Allen & Unwin 2020)

On Wednesday Tohby Riddle facebooked that he couldn’t have a launch for his new picture book because of the social isolation regime. I ordered a copy yesterday morning (Friday) from Gleebooks online. David Gaunt, Gleebooks head honcho, delivered a copy to my door yesterday afternoon – he said he was hand delivering books as a way of dealing with his anxiety. All three bricks and mortar Gleebooks are shut and their post-Covid survival is in doubt. So I’m writing this post about an utterly joyous book through a haze of proleptic grief.

The book is brilliant. It’s brilliant anyway, but it’s absolutely a book for our socially-isolating times.

The Astronaut’s cat is an inside cat. The text never mentions the moon, but that’s where she is. She likes to look outside but doesn’t want to go there. She dreams of going out to frolic in the low-gravity landscape, and then within the dream she dreams of going to live on the blue ball that rises over the horizon – and after all the stark moonscapes there are four full-colour spreads to make the heart sing. All this told in sparse, perfectly judged text.

Tohby has put a couple of his favourite spreads up on facebook (at this link). I’m assuming he won’t mind me putting them up here as well:

When I blog about children’s books, I label them as ‘Ruby Reads’. So that’s how I’ve labelled this one. While I expect toddler Ruby to enjoy it, I doubt if she’ll fall as intensely in love with it as I have.

5 responses to “Tohby Riddle’s Astronaut’s Cat

  1. Oh my, what amazing timing.
    You don’t think it’s too sad for small children, under the circumstances?
    Because I’m tempted to order this one for my grand-nieces and nephews…


    • Actually not sad at all. The inside life is cosy and the celebration of life on the ‘blue ball’ is exhilarating. For that matter the dream of being outside on the moon has a lovely magic quality.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, thanks, now to seek out the bookshops still functioning near where they live!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kathyprokhovnik

    Thanks for the thumbs up Jonathan, and also for alerting me to the situation at Gleebooks … I’ll order something now. Possibly this, and Hillary Mantel.

    Liked by 1 person

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