This book is dedicated to 'the strange virtue in deprivation, an unwanted and the least understood gateway to humanity and life's riches,' which is not the most straightforward of dedications, but Ed Young does not make orthodox picture books.
There is a simple lesson in this story: the importance of not wasting food, but it is wrapped up in so much beauty and mysticism, that it seems to have come directly from some ancient Buddhist text... albeit one with a talking cat.
Young has again used paper collage as his medium, and to great effect. The snowy landscapes are especially vivid, and the cut paper is used well to show the cold breath coming from the mouth of his wandering Lord Cat. A few pages later, and the cut-paper is now a beige, barren landscape where famine has persisted for several years... even the long, red paper strip to signify blood coming from the beak of a hunter bird had a special vibrancy to it. I don't often think of paper-collage being so detailed and precise. Young fits it all in perfectly. I could feel the movement from one land to the next, the proportioning of the characters, the distance between them.
|Hunters gifted him with rare meats...|
|"Are you blind? Can't you see the bowl is half-empty?"|
|The famine persisted a second year.|