In a city of cats and people, Cilla is a black and white cat who wants a home. A real home, not the leaky boat at the dock she shares with her best friend Betto. After yet another human says Cilla can’t live with them, her friend Alaya tells her the kitten story of the quiet garden. It’s a beautiful place where the sun is warm, the water is cool, the humans are kind, and cats are always welcome. Cilla decides that is the home for her, and starts her journey to find it. Though Betto is content with the dock and the leaky boat where they currently live, he eventually agrees to go with her. The oldest cat in the city, Old Paolo, points the pair in the direction of Gozo. There, they should find a cat named Dolche who knows the way to the door leading to the quiet garden. Once Cilla and Betto find the door, does the quiet garden really lie beyond it?

This was a lovely and delightful little graphic novel. Of course, the cats were all so cute! The expressive, frenetic linework and cross-hatching gave a perpetual sense of movement to the character designs and the environments. Since the story takes place on an island chain, slightly desaturated colors were used to suggest sun bleaching. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see famous paintings, from multiple cultures throughout history, recreated here. The main theme of this graphic novel is story: “There’s a measure of truth in all good stories.” Many stories are told within the context of Cilla and Betto’s main journey. Each time, the cats leap out of the panels and explore these famous paintings. An art notes section in the back gives information about each painting used, as well as why it was chosen for that certain point in the story. So, while the main plot is about Cilla and Betto’s quest for a real home, the artwork tells a story in itself.

I loved A Cat Story: the characters, the literary (art-erary?) devices, and the warm tale of friendship and finding your own home. Keep this one on your shelf if you need to visit a museum but don’t feel quite comfortable going out yet, or for a nice quick beach read 😉

– Kathleen

Murray Husted, Ursula. A Cat Story. 2020.