The CATS' MUSEUM
The CATS' MUSEUM
The Cats’ Museum is an endearing and winsome tale featuring a cast of felines whose mild-mannered mischief intrigues young readers and cat lovers of all ages. A touch of history is added to set the scene. Catherine the Great recruits stray cats to protect her beloved Hermitage Museum from rodents. Little did she know that…
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BOOKLIFE REVIEW:
Falleti’s ingenious picture book for young children introduces the real-life cats of Russia’s famous Hermitage Museum—and imagines the clandestine adventures they enjoy when no one is watching. Set in the eighteenth century, the story explains how Russian empress Catherine the Great was dismayed to discover a colony of rats in the basement of her beloved museum. To take care of the problem, she lures stray cats into the room, and over time 74 cats come to call the Hermitage home. Charmingly, Catherine is shown presenting the cats with an annual feast of caviar, fresh fish, cheese, and milk—and then she leaves them to devour the delicacies and fall asleep.
But the cats, of course, have other plans. After enjoying their treats, they wander the museum at night, swinging from the chandeliers, chasing mice, and hosting a yearly dance recital amidst the great sculptures on display. The next morning, they leave no trace of their festivities, aside from one tiny costume, which Catherine discovers with great amusement. Cats by nature are mysterious and enigmatic, so it’s not too much of a stretch to think they might lead hidden lives. Kids will be delighted to share in the Hermitage cats’ secret.
Victoria Fomina’s elegant illustrations are one of this book’s biggest strengths. Rich with imagination and detail, they show the cats both in real-world scenarios hunting rats and in endearing fantastical situations. One of the most memorable scenes has a line of cats performing a Russian folk dance in one of the museum’s stately hallways, each kitty with a unique traditional costume and glittering chandeliers hanging overhead. Each picture is fully realized and absorbing, creating a textured world of its own that will transport young readers to this historical location. Kids will want to revisit this charming tale and spend some time letting their own imaginations run wild.
Takeaway: Ingenious picture book imagines the secret adventures of Russia’s Hermitage cats.