It’s not particularly surprising that Cats’ Night Out won what is arguably the top children’s literature prize in Canada, the Governor General’s Literary Award. It’s one of those children’s books that hits all the right notes (no pun intended).
Caroline Stutson’s book does everything right. It’s a counting book that doesn’t feel like it’s teaching counting. It has a beautiful, rhythmic rhyme scheme that’s lovely for reading aloud. It’s age appropriate, but introduces new vocabulary (from “bowler hats” and “spats” to “tango” and “samba”). It tells a story, but in few enough words to keep it short for tired parents.
I found Jon Klassen’s artwork a bit dark, but well-suited to the story. It creates a genuine atmosphere of cats sneaking out in the twilight to get up to their dancing mischief, with a realism that makes the alleys of the city come to life.