Monday, March 15, 2010

Review #63: The Cinder-Eyed Cats

Lily (age 7):  "The Cinder-Eyed Cats."
Dad:  What is the first thing you think of when you look at this cover?  Does it give you any certain feelings?
Isaac (age 11):  The cats are looking at you strangely.  You can't take your eyes off them.
Gracie (age 9):  You get nervous.  Their eyes are disturbing.
Dad:  I love the eyes.
Lily:  Me too.
Isaac:  They have flaming yellow eyes.
Gracie:  They are looking at me!  The cats are waiting for me to blink so they can do something to me.
Lily:  The illustrator draws cool.
Gracie:  Very realistic.
Lily:  He draws the coolest of the cools.  It is so so so so so so so realistic.
Dad:  Do you know what other books Eric Rohmann made?  You will be shocked.
Gracie:  What?
Dad:  There's another one of my favorites.  He did "My Friend Rabbit."  You know the one where the rabbit throws the plane and it gets stuck in a tree?
Isaac:  Huh!!!  He did that?  That's a linocut one...
Dad:  Yep - wood cut.  So Eric Rohmann is good at more than one style.
Lily:  The pictures are just so awesome.
Gracie:  I love the pictures.
Dad:  Tell us what "The Cinder-Eyed Cats" is about...
Isaac:  There's a boy who gets into this flying boat, and he goes to an island.
Gracie:  The Wondrous Island of Cats.
Lily:  They are big, giant, puma cats.
Isaac:  I think they are mountain lions.  No - ligers!  They're ligers!  Don't they look like ligers?  They've got to be ligers.
Lily:  Gracie doesn't know what a liger is.
Isaac:  A liger is when a lion and a tiger get... married... and have ligers for kids.
Dad:  I don't think they get "married."  But we don't need to go into that now...
Gracie:  Yes we do.  We need to know this.
Dad:  What we need, is to keep this review rated "G."
Isaac:  Isn't there such a thing as a Zorse too?
Lily:  Yeah, there are zorses.
Dad:  A zebra-horse mix...
Gracie:  Everyone needs to know the story of ligers and zorses.  It's just like a Golden Doodle.  A golden retriever and a poodle mixed.
Dad:  Why "Doodle"?  It should be Golden... Roodle?
Gracie:  Nope.  Doodle.  Julia has one.
Dad:  Anyway -- back to our book...
Gracie:  It's about a boy, and he went to an island... the Magic Island of Liger-ness.
Isaac:  Then he builds this giant fish out of sand -- it looks like a huge salmon.  Then at night, the sand fish salmon opens his eyes and starts flying.
Lily:  The cats make the fish alive by their eyes.
Dad:  You think it was the cats that brought the sand fish to life?
Lily:  Yeah!  Their eyes.
Dad:  They do look like magic eyes.
Lily:  Yeah, they seem strange.
Gracie:  Their eyes just keep staring at you!  It freaks me out.  Here... (turns book) ...stare at Lily.
Isaac:  Then at night all these other fishes start flying!
Lily:  They do it at night because that's when the pumas are awake.
Gracie:  They are ligers.
Lily:  Whatever.
Gracie:  The fishes dance in the air on the Magic Island of Liger-ness.
Isaac:  There are dancing tunas and sardines.
Lily:  They circle around and around.
Gracie:  They all dance around the fire.
Lily:  Even big giant whales fly, which looks really cool.
Dad:  The boy in this book seems to be friends with the cats.
Gracie:  Well, why would he come to the island if he didn't know the cats already?
Dad:  So you think he's been to the island before?
Gracie:  Oh yeah.
Lily:  They are friendly cats.
Gracie:  They are not dangerous.
Lily:  This cat should be named "Lemon."
Gracie:  I think the boy goes to the island every night.
Isaac:  Every night he'll have different adventures.
Gracie:  Maybe the next time he could build a sand turtle, then all these turtles could come alive and fly.
Isaac:  I would build a sand dragon!
Dad:  Did you guys know this book changed my life?
Isaac:  It did?
Dad:  I saw this cover years ago, and it was at that moment I knew I wanted to be an illustrator.  I was in a library, reading a magazine -- I looked up and those cats were staring at me from across the room.  I looked down, then back up, and they were still staring at me.  I had to walk across the room and pick up this book.  I had to look at it.
Gracie:  Like they were saying "Open it, already!"
Dad:  And I was smitten by the children's book bug.  These cats were screaming at me with their eyes.  And everything changed.  That was the moment I knew -- this is what I want to do.
Isaac:  I love that front cover too.  I'd like to have that picture hanging up in my room.

cinder-eyed cat, by Isaac

cinder-eyed cat riding a flying fish, by Lily

Gracie visits the island and brings a sand panda to life,
by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Published, 1997: Knopf
Like it?  Find it


ElizT said...

Labradoodles are nice.

morninglight mama said...

Oh, I love the conversations you all have about illustrations-- so thoughtful and perceptive you all are!!

Playing by the book said...

We're all lucky you came across this book many years ago! I want to be hypnotised by the eyes now, so I shall have to track down a copy :-)

Kim Baise said...

Sounds wonderful and magical and I will have to get my hands on a copy for the illustrations and those EYES!!!!