Blue Sky Press.
If you haven't read my post about Cynthia Rylant's book, The Dreamer, you can read it here. I give you this link because it was a much more positive review of that book, and some of the thoughts I write about Cat Heaven may be better understood after reading the post about The Dreamer.
As you may know, I wasn't well acquainted with Cynthia Rylant before reading a couple of her books today. I feel as though I am getting to know her better through her books, or at least one aspect of her life. What I have noticed in the few books I have read, is that she writes a lot about God and Heaven, although they are not explicitly about a Christian life. I had wondered if Rylant had a theme to her books, and it appears, from what I have read so far, that she does. She writes about religion and God within kid friendly books.
In the book, Cat Heaven, it goes through the thoughts of a cat when he enters Heaven and spends his day there. Rylant describes cat heaven as "a field of sweet grass where crickets and butterflies play." It sets up the reader to think about what cats would like in Heaven, and in turn, what people would like in Heaven. She continues to explain that all of the cat problems have gone away -- cats don't get stuck in trees because they can fly, there are toys and cotton mice all around, angels always waiting around to pet the cats, and whatever food the cat prefers is available whenever he is hungry. The cat is content, needing, while it watches his old family, and then at the end of the day, can curl up with God.
As I think about this book, I can't determine whether its purpose is to help children who have lost a pet, particularly a cat, or if it is supposed to help children who have lost a family member or a friend. It parallels what is said about when humans go to Heaven -- there is no pain, you can do what you please and be at peace. Although I understand her want in giving children a book that could help them through a difficult time, whether it is with an animal or human, this book did not particularly grab me. The illustrations were incredibly different than in the The Dreamer and they didn't hold my attention as well. They were more simplistic and silly, which may have been done to lighten the mood of the topic of the book. The illustrations in this book were done by Rylant, and as I looked through some of her other books, this appears to be her style of illustration. I may not have liked it because I am an adult, and I don't appreciate the painted, simple pictures, like a child might. The illustrations match the text and are specific to what she has written. Although this book could be beneficial for a child who has lost a loved one (furry or not), I think that it would be difficult for a child who is not growing up in a religious household to understand the implications of the story.
Overall, this was not my favorite book that I have read so far. I may be someone who enjoys children's text with a little more complexity and story and someone who likes to see detailed illustrations which go along with the plot of a book. Maybe I am too surface level and can't or don't think deeply enough about what has been written. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this book, if you have read it.
Either way, I look forward to moving on to other books.