The book opens with a general explanation of some of the terms used like habitat, obligate carnivore, and a few simple notes on the general nature of cats. It shows the evolution of felids, including domesticated cats and sabre-toothed tigers. There are diagrams of cats showing how they are adapted to be hunters and to survive in their various harsh environments. Many of the illustrations have a seek-and-find aspect, none more so than the spread on camouflage where kids can search for five cats hidden in the images. The book then features interesting facts about a wide variety of cats from margays to tigers. There are comparisons of the biggest, smallest, and fastest, spreads of some rare and wonderful cats, some information on kittens, and cats in mythology. Back matter consists of a detailed index.
Owen Davey's stylized art is perfectly suited to this exploration of the world of big cats. The rich hues of orange, brown, and red are blended to create not only stunning portraits of cats and their unique patterned coats but also of their backgrounds, making every page a fun exercise in hide-and-seek. The text is really secondary to the illustrations, which will both charm and enthrall cat-lovers of all ages.
There are a few drawbacks to the text - some of it is light and placed against dark backgrounds does not show up well, making it easy to skip some of the words. The book is clearly British in origin, with metric measurements throughout and an odd use of the word "wee" for urine. The evolutionary tree is laid out a little oddly, making it look like all cats evolved from the modern tiger. There are no sources for the information included.
Verdict: While I wouldn't suggest this title for research purposes, it's a superb book for browsing and poring over with friends or alone, which is what it is designed for. I catalog this series in my picture book animal neighborhoods, where kids looking for cat books to read on their own or with an adult are sure to discover and enjoy it. Recommended.
ISBN: 9781911171164; Published 2017 by Flying Eye Books; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library