Me and My Cat is a debut picture book by Russian illustrator, Ekaterina Trukhan. It is aimed at a very young audience and hits its target exactly. The nameless narrator describes her grey cat and recounts all they do together. This is prefigured by endpapers that show a series of small framed images of the cat, and its owner as they move through the day. The text is descriptive and rather deadpan: ‘We love to race and chase … He gets into lots of places I can’t. And into some places he shouldn’t.’ This is counterbalanced by pictures of the cat strolling along rooftops and, on the next page-turn, looking rather anxiously from a tree-top while a dog barks below. Then, as he gives forth an almighty ‘Meow’, his friend is there, complete with ladder, to rescue him – ‘But whenever he needs me, I’m always there to help.’ And when she needs ‘a little help’ when a mouse scoots across the floor, he’s there to pounce. All is said with a merciful lack of exclamation marks, allowing readers to gain some understanding of how pictures and words work together.
The slightly abstract, scratchy, painted images are given plenty of space, mostly spread across two pages. The cat’s body language and expressions shows him to be less dead-pan than his owner – but then, in cat-years he is older and more experienced. This is a lovely book that will be explored again and again, and I look forward to seeing Trukhan’s next book.