February 08, 2019

Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess

Written and illustrated by Janet Hill
Tundra Books
48 pp.
Ages 4-8 (but really for all ages)
January 2019

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, many will be thinking of romantic love. But I can't think of a better time (other than International Day of the Cat on August 8th) to promote Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess as Miss Mink's sixty-seven lovely felines share their wisdom about living well and loving self. It's love with a difference.

From Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill
As with Janet Hill's first book, Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess (Tundra, 2016), there is a detailed introduction to Miss Mink and her circumstances. Readers will learn of Miss Marcella Mink's living with her cats and starting her own feline-friendly cruise company but, overwhelmed with her business's success, Miss Mink becomes unhappy. Only by heeding the advice of her cats does she learn how to live "a purrfect life."

From Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill
In a series of twenty double-spreads, Miss Mink recounts the lessons gleaned from her ever-wise cats. From "Start the day off right with a proper grooming" to "Find happiness in the little things" and "Don't be afraid to voice your opinion (loudly)," Miss Mink recognizes the actions and thoughts that her cats practise daily. There are lessons in gratitude, enterprise, positivity, friendship and mindfulness. It's about being in the moment and taking in what's good around you, not worrying or negating experiences as insignificant or worthless. There's a reason that cats may have been worshipped or at the very least held in the very highest of esteem. Their poise and shrewdness, along with savvy behaviours, provide guidance to living well and in the moment. Janet Hill recognizes that they impart wisdom wrapped up in love, knowing that they will always know better than their human counterparts.
From Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill
But the life lessons go beyond the words. With a clowder of cats from which to choose, Janet Hill expands the learning from words of wisdom to exemplars for living well. Though her paintings have a romantic feel to them, embedded in the glamour of the 1920s, Janet Hill gives them more whimsy and affection, the emphasis on the tenderness and care rather than the amorous. With mental health issues on the rise, Janet Hill and Miss Mink and her felines share some wonderful coaching on self-care and appreciation to which we should all attend.

For the animal lover, especially of cats, who might appreciate an absorbing and heartfelt book about taking care of oneself to make the most of life, courtesy of life lessons from those who live lives to their fullest, Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess is the book to pick up this weekend. It's a Valentine for self that can be shared with others.
Lesson Twelve: Love others, but don't forget to love yourself too.                         From Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill 

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