Lynn: Many children will recognize Judy Schachner as the author of the much-loved Skippyjon Jones books but Bits & Pieces (Penguin/Dial 2013) is about an “odd duck” of a cat named Tink. Readers of any age who live with cats will love this humorous observant story about a cat whose family loves him to bits & pieces despite the fact that he has a brain the size of a frozen pea.
Tink is an indoor cat. After one brief experience of the outside world, Tink yearns to get out there again. Tink’s family frustrate him at every attempt and the escape attempts go on for years until one day, a very old Tink manages to slip out the door. It was as intoxicating as he imagined until the moment Tink decides to go home for dinner and discovers he has no idea how to get there. A nick-of-time rescue gets Tink back with his family for a sweet ending.
We’ve had the pleasure of sharing our lives with many cats including our two current residents who could give Tink a run for the money and we also love them to bits & pieces. So of course I loved this book but with very good reason. Schachner does a terrific job with both the text and the illustrations here. It isn’t easy to create a book that is really sweet and heart-felt and not veer into a gooey saccharine overdose. Schachner manages this feat with aplomb. Her humor adds just the right touch, portraying Tink as a very realistic cat with the mannerisms cat families will instantly recognize. Happily the people at Penguin tell us that the illustrations are done with charcoal pencil, pan pastels, watercolor and cut paper and they are a lovely mix of hilarious and tender. Schachner clearly knows and loves cats and there is a picture on the back flap of the real Tink. This wonderful book came out late last year so make sure you don’t miss it in the tide of new 2014’s. And – oh yes, Tink’s bat-eared little friend may look very familiar too.