August 08, 2018

The Fish and the Cat

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
Princeton Architectural Press
92 pp.
Ages 3-7
April 2018

In a lovely floral-wallpapered room, a fish in a fish bowl is visited by a curious cat who proceeds, much to the fish's distress, to attempt to capture it.

From The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc
Amidst the swirling water produced by the cat's pawing, the fish is propelled into the air and flies out through the window. The cat gives chase as the fish, flying now, goes from rooftop through a house, among a forest of trees with red birds, in which the fish is camouflaged and into a starry sky.  Still, the cat pursues.
From The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc
Onto the moon, the cat touches down, temporarily losing sight of the fish but witnessing the grandeur of the night sky before catching a ride on a falling star to continue his pursuit.
From The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc
Through a dark cave and a town, the fish leads the cat to the sea where the fish promptly finds home and the cat, though willing to check out the water, gives up his quest and partakes in a glowing sunset.

The Fish and the Cat is Marianne Dubuc's most recent wordless picture book. Her intense message without words or with very little text has garnered her many awards for works such as In Front of My House (Kids Can Press, 2010), The Lion and the Bird (Enchanted Lion Books, 2014) and The Bus Ride (Kids Can Press, 2015) and she does the same in this book, a new edition of the previously published La mer (La Pastèque, 2007) and The Sea (Officina Libraria, 2012).
While I've given away more of the story than I intended, I've actually told very little, only the meaning I have taken from the story.  Because each reader will find a different story within, The Fish and the Cat is much more than I've described here. It's the wonder and the interpretation of the illustrations that makes wordless books so rich. With Marianne Dubuc illustrating the book, the expansiveness of the story is even greater. Using only black and white with red reserved for the fish and the birds among which it hides, there is an inherent simplicity that actually lends a boldness to the story.  It's saying, "This is it. Take what you will from it." Well, from it, I take a message of chasing a dream, whether to reach the sea or to capture a fish, and finding what you need, though not always what you desire.

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