Reviewed by Eileen Graves
Opening with a dedication “to all the cats in my life,” Eric Carle tells a story about a little boy, who is looking for his lost cat and discovers a world full of different, beautiful cats. It is more about diversity than anything, and it gets the point across very well. The world is made up of many different cultures and ethnicities, which become apparent as soon as we’re ready to notice them. This picture book makes that realization open for very young children.
Looking for his missing cat, the protagonist travels around the world asking people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures the same question: “Have you seen my cat?” They point him to different types of cats that are typical to their own countries (lion, jaguar, tiger, Persian house cat, and others). The cats are shown in beautiful, cut-paper illustrations. The boy’s response is always “This is not my cat!” until at the end of the book, when he finds his cat with a litter of her kittens. The joy of this discovery is richer for the experience of finding diversity that exists in the world.
Because this book repeats the same lines over and over, it offers an engaging experience for very young readers who love repetition and recognition of the same pattern. There are lessons that could be added, such as animal sounds, as well as conversations about different cultures and lands. This picture book could be helpful to preschoolers exploring geography, science, and differences among cats and people alike.
Have You Seen My Cat?
by Eric Carle
Simon & Schuster Books or Young Readers, 1987 (1st edition)
Reviewed by Eileen Graves, The Writing Nana and Lifelong Learner