Picture Books: Old Robert And The Sea-Silly Cats

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Each Friday, we’ve been bringing you picture books recommended by Cheryl Ashley, our children’s librarian. This week’s story reflects on the importance of friendship as experienced through the eyes of a lonely sailor. Here are some additional books to review on friendship from some of the weekly contributors to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday series: Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet, Jeremy Draws a Monster, Calvin Can’t Fly, Harry and Horsie,  and  Tom’s Tweet just to name a few.

Title:  Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats.
Written by:  Barbara Joosse
Illustrated by:  Jan Jutte
Publisher:  Philomel Books, 2012
Suitable for:  Pre-School and up
Themes/Topics:  Loneliness, friendship, the drawbacks of being too fastidious

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Opening:  From the book:  Once there was a shipshape man who had everything he needed- nothing more, nothing less.

Brief synopsis:  Old Robert, sailor on a tiny sailboat, was a careful man who would not sail at night.  He held to  a rigid routine:   nightly supper of toast in buttered milk, counting the regular things in their regular place… “clean socks, a clock, my ship in the slip at the dock, one dish, one spoon a slice of the silver moon.”  As he lies in his bed, gazing at the moon through the porthole, the reader feels his sense of isolation and loneliness.  But one evening, a dancing cat in a pink dress appears on the dock and makes Robert smile.  Against his better judgment, Robert lets the cat stay and a singing cat, juggling cat and sweet little ordinary cat eventually move in, too.  The moon expands as Robert’s heart grows with the love for his new friends and we see Robert sailing away at night on the last page of the story.

Why Cheryl chose this book:  I love the book’s message.   Old Robert reminds us that we all need friends and people around us to share life with.  The illustrations are charming as well, simple black line drawings filled in with watercolor and acrylic in cool tones of pink, green and blue.

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