ARC Review: The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids by Joanne Mattern

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids

Author: Joanne Mattern

Category: MG Nonfiction

Publisher/Date: Capstone/1 March 2018

Edition: eARC



Barnes and Noble:

For Ages: 9-12

Do you have cat-titude? Learn the history, behaviors, physical traits, and special characteristics of cat breeds including Siamese, Persian, American Shorthair, Abyssinian, Maine Coon, and many more. Filled with fun facts and charming photographs, this guidebook gives cat lovers and owners an in-depth look at some furry feline friends. Charming photographs, fun facts, and hands-on pet care tips make this is the ultimate cat-alogue!

I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

I was the kind of kid who would read cat encyclopedias from cover-to-cover multiple times because of my love of cats, so the fact that this book caught my eye is not at all surprising. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations for a number of reasons, and I didn’t finish it with the best impression.

I largely didn’t like the book because of ethical reasons. This book described a handful of cat breeds in detail, and then after each one told the reader that the best place to get these particular cats was through breeders and pet stores, and it had an “elitist” air around it when it came to mentioning animal shelters. This book had a large bend towards cat show culture, and while there’s nothing wrong with describing breeds of cats based on show requirements, it was rather uncomfortable reading someone tell a targeted 9 to 12-year-old audience that they should be buying cats instead of adopting them because purebred cats are superior and are “less likely to have health problems” when the likelihood of a 9 to 12-year-old actually being able to show their pet cats in a show is extremely low. With the overpopulation of shelters as it is, we shouldn’t be teaching kids that shelter animals are inferior to purebred ones when that flat-out isn’t true.

Additionally, the book had an incorrect definition of de-clawing, stating that it “either remove[s] part of the claw or keep[s] a cat from retracting the claw” when the actual act of declawing removes part of the cat’s fingers. While the book says that organizations “disapprove” of de-clawing it doesn’t actually take a firm stance against it, and the misleading definition of de-clawing can lead people into believing that de-clawing isn’t as harmful as it is. Note that this is the text from the ARC and not the final copy and this is something that I hope gets fixed in the final text, but it’s a large concern of mine.

The pictures are really beautiful and did make me smile — the book is FILLED with large, colorful pictures of adorable cats, and they by themselves are delightful.

The pictures in this book are worth looking at for cat lovers, but the writing wasn’t very engaging and left me concerned about the motivations behind writing the text. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, but I would advise approaching it with caution.

Final rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

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