Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote this book review as part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.
Hurayrah the Cat
Hurayrah the Cat: The Snack Catcher by Farah Morley, illustrated by Alexandra Nyerges (2014)
Bright, colorful pictures in a style reminiscent of Western-commercialized Japanese manga greet the reader in this light-hearted story narrated by and about an orphaned tabby cat who makes a name for himself by saving a sleeping human from a snake using clever dialogue, in the sacred city of Madina, with frequent mention to Abd al-Rahman, also known to Muslims as a prolific narrator of hadith and as kunyah Abu Hurayrah, or “Father of a Kitten.” This brings context and grounds the entire book in the world and times of Prophet Muhammad(p).
It is clear from the start that both the author and illustrator are on the same page. The writing maintains a clear voice with lots of spunk and wide-eyed innocence that speaks to a young reader. Meanwhile, the images are clear and vibrant marker drawings with big expressions and distinctive body positioning, lots of contextual clues to time and place, and smooth, sure lines. There is an upbeat feel to the images with the most emphasis being placed on one or two characters in the foreground being given the most focus. Meanwhile, there are those beautiful blue eyes of Hurayrah. Those are the show-stoppers. All of the emotion, all of the drama can be summed up in its eyes. If all else is lost, children will pay attention to those and be able to tell whole stories from them.
This tale of a cat in search of a member of the sahabah only to find and remove a snake from a stranger’s sleeve and find a family is a short, sweet, and altogether enjoyable story from start to finish. Well worth a look.