Not a Cat: a memoir – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Take a cue from Gato (and Walt Whitman): “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

From the cover, it’s clear that Gato is a breaker of molds, a defier of norms and expectations.

Text ©Winter Miller Illustration ©Danica Novgorodoff

I have four legs, two ears, and a long, long tail,

but the thing is…

Text ©Winter Miller Illustration ©Danica Novgorodoff

I don’t feel that “CAT” describes me.

Gato defies classification based on biology alone. He asks the reader a series of questions (a kind of feline Socrates), making us think about how we neatly generalize and categorize, an important and vital skill that helps us function in everyday life, but one that we need to be conscious and wary of at the same time so we don’t fall prey to rigid thinking or stereotyping.

I love the blurbs for this book on Amazon, including this one by Nicholas Kristof, a long-time do-gooder NYTimes columnist who doesn’t usually blurb children’s books: “Add to the great philosophers in history, along with Plato and Kant, Gato the Cat. Well, maybe not a cat. Hmm. Just call Gato a cat searching for a sense of self, with verve, humor―and plenty to teach us along the way.”

Novgorodoff’s illustrations, both playful and saucy, are eye-catching and offer lots of fun details for readers to pore over. You can pre-order now. The scheduled release date is March 22, 2022.


Make a list of all the different ways you’re like other things/people/animals or a list of things you like to do. For example, if you like running, find a picture of something (it doesn’t have to be human) running. Make a collage that shows pictures of things/people/animals that show different parts of your personality, not just your physical characteristics. Can you name the collage the way Gato names himself at the end of the book?

Make origami sunglasses (imagine being someone completely different when you’re wearing your sunglasses. Who are you? And what are you like?

Make paper bunny glasses (mix it up and use rainbow colors).

Make an origami Gato.

For parents and teachers, enjoy this article from Scholastic that shows the many phases children pass through on their way to developing their concept of self.

Title: Not a Cat: a memoir

Author: Winter Miller

Illustrator: Danica Novgorodoff

Publisher: Tilbury House, 2022

Themes: self identity, self confidence, cats

Ages: pre-K through elementary school

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

11 thoughts on “Not a Cat: a memoir – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Ste J says:

    For some reason your review made me recall the Discworld charactr Evil Smelling Bastard, the greatest mathmetician on the Discworld, sadly this was never known as he was a camel.

  2. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I love the idea of Gato as an existential cat in search of self… And a great collection of activities, too.

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