How can anyone resist an all-ages book about cat poop? Familiar situations such as a cat preferring the sandbox to its litter box, the cat’s energetic and inclusive body licking, the shedding of cat hair, and family compromises in regards to pets and their habits formulate this energetic and inclusive tale. The author, Gene Ambaum, is a cat person as well as half of the team behind the public library focused comic strip Unshelved. Illustrator Sophie Goldstein is also a cat person and their love and understanding of felines shines strong and sure.

I am not a cat person, but nevertheless delighted in the shenanigans that the narrator and his best friend Stinky underwent during a particularly trying visit with Auntie. The illustrations telegraph, with great delight, the predictable results of trying out a new type of kitty litter just before the dreaded auntie arrives for her weekly visit. What is not quite as predictable is the way the story ends with such a satisfying plop.

The bright colours and lively cartoony illustrations are a perfect fit, although I did have a bit of a problem with mother baking cookies in her high heels, pearls, and a frilly but not very useful apron. Expressive facial expressions and the interpretation of the child’s point of reference (a lot of missing heads in the panels highly reflective of photographs my children took when they were much younger) blended effectively with the large and child-friendly font to indicate that this book is intended for children to readily identify with and enjoy.

The size and shape and hard cover of this book say that it is a picture book. The interior is very much a comic book with panels, sound balloons, and intertwined illustrations and text relating the story. In a discussion with Gene last spring, he demonstrated not only his love for the graphic novel format but his delight in introducing younger readers to sly visual humour that can be found in everyday situations. The book does contain a warning that the story is about cat poop. I think this would be an irresistible read for anyone who has a cat, knows a cat, has an auntie, has heard of aunties, or has a funny bone!

Also available as an e-book.

Poopy Claws
by Gene Ambaum
Art by Sophie Goldstein
ISBN: 978-0-9740353
Overdue Media, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: all ages

  • Gail

    | She/Her Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta


    In addition to teaching at the School of Library and Information Studies (University of Alberta) where she is an adjunct professor, Gail tells stories and conducts workshops on a wide variety of topics across Canada and the United States. Each year she teaches the following courses for the University of Alberta. All of her courses are delivered online: Storytelling, Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries, Canadian Children’s Literature for School and Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. She also teaches a course on Indigenous Literature for the ATEP program (Aboriginal Teacher Education Program) at the University of Alberta. Gail is the award-winning author of nine books on storytelling and folklore in popular culture.

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