Friday, June 8, 2018

PPBF: Carousel Cat

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Carousel Cat, by Robert J. Blake
Carousel Cat

Written  and illustrated by Robert J. Blake

Philomel, 2005
Ages 4-8, 40 pp

Cats, Summer, The Jersey Shore!

I want to tell you a story about a cat.
Just an ordinary cat, until the day it did an extraordinary thing.

The Carousel Cat centers around a stray orange cat and a carousel operator for a shabby merry-go-round on a forgotten stretch of boardwalk. The operator, named Dan, and his friends, the strong man and the fortune teller, meet every day to have lunch and ride the carousel until the boardwalk attractions are forced to close. When the cat disappears and a fire breaks out, Dan and his friends rush to the rescue, but it may be the cat who is the hero of the day.

What I Love:
I was initially attracted to this book because it was immediately clear the illustrations were based on Asbury Park, New Jersey, less than a half mile walk down the boardwalk from my cousin's place. But the detailed illustration style drew me in and the fun adventure story kept me coming back. You don't have to be familiar with the surroundings to enjoy the summer vibe and the colorful charaters in this story.

Blake's normally realistic painterly style is replaced with a different approach: highly detailed illustrations paired with black and white drawings which appear ripped right from the artist's sketchbook. The mix of detail and energy draws readers into the story to pore over every page.

Perfect to kickstart your summer reading.

Download and color a Jersey postcard from USA Printables

1. Imagine yourself in the story: visit the revitalized boardwalk at Asbury Park or stroll through the quaint Victorian streets of neighboring Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

2. If you aren't on the east coast to ride ten of the oldest merry-go-rounds in the US, you can check the interactive map of registered rides on for a carousel near you.

3. Instructions for a preschool-level paper carousel craft can be found on Pinterested Parent or try the more complicated spinning merry-go-round centerpiece on Oh Happy Day!

4. Shindigz offers suggestions for boardwalk themed games, food, and decorations to host a spectacular summer party, or for a simpler carnival theme, view the party pics on Hostess With the Mostess.

5. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Maria

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Joanne

Hilarious emergency preparedness
with Scaredy Squirrel

More boardwalk adventures in
Mira Forecasts the Future

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, June 8, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. This feel so fresh and different from so many of today's picture books somehow.

    1. I love your comment! I remember corresponding with the artist, and he was disappointed more people didn't "get" the style for this book, since it's so different from his usual. You've made my day. Thanks.

  2. This sounds heartwarming - will look for it. Thanks!

  3. There is so much charm in this story. I love that the illustrations are based on a real park. And, who doesn't like a cat heroine.

    1. I think young readers will be delighted with the surprise reveal about the cat character. It seems to me a perfectly kid-centric plot. Thanks.

  4. What a perfect choice for summer. I'm a sucker for a heartwarming cat story. And now I really want to visit the East Coast and soak in that boardwalk summer vibe.

    1. I understand the West coast also has a huge boardwalk culture. I hope you can satisfy the summer itch soon. Thanks.

  5. Looks like a wonderful summer read! Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. Thank-you for your encouragement. I love sharing books which others might have missed. Happy summer.

  6. I rode the carousel at Asbury Park! Fun to remember and think about the cat's heroics. Thanks for the link remembering Ketzel, too!

    1. For me it was all about the bumper cars! They're working hard to rebuild Asbury and the surrounding communities, especially after the devastating hurricanes in past seasons. Asbury itself has chosen an artistic vibe, so we may never see rides there again, but the theater and other attractions are lots of fun for an older crowd. I hope each neighborhood can retain its unique character for the next century. Thanks for the memories.

  7. Beautiful looking book. I love stories with cats in. There are obviously so many lovely unique places to still visit and see on the east coast.

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