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JP Gay
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GAY
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GAY
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Summary

Summary

Caramba is a fat, furry, striped cat with a big problem. "Every single cat in the world can fly," he sighs, "except me!" Caramba would love to swoop and glide between the clouds, to feel the wind whistling through his fur. He tries to soar into the sky over and over again but always lands flat on his face, until finally he sadly accepts that he is earthbound. "Don't be such a scaredy-cat," cry his cousins. "All cats are meant to fly!" They grab his paws and whisk him up into the sky for an impromptu flying lesson that ends with a big splash... and a surprising discovery in this beautifully illustrated story with a special message of self-acceptance.


Author Notes

Children's author and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay was born in Quebec City, Canada on June 17, 1952. While attending the Institute of Graphic Arts of Montreal, she decided graphic art was too restraining and transferred to the Montreal Museum School of Fine Art, where is majored in animation. She worked for various Canadian magazines doing editorial illustration and illustrated a children's book. In order to learn more about illustration, she attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco for three years.

She moved to Montreal, Canada and started illustrating children's books. In 1980, she decided to write and illustrate her own picture books. In 1984, she won the Canada Council Children's Literature Prize for illustration in both the English-language category for Lizzy's Lion and the French-language category for Drôle d'école. She won the Canadian Library Association Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon medal for Moonbeam on a Cat's Ear in 1987 and for Rainy Day Magic in 1988. The latter book also earned her the coveted Governor General's Award for illustration. She has also won the 2005 Vicky Metcalf Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie's Book Award, and the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Caramba is ashamed that he cannot fly like the other cats. Confiding in his flightless friend Portia the pig, he practices flying in secret. He lands in some comical predicaments but remains frustrated and grounded. When his cousins try teaching him to get airborne by carrying him over the ocean and letting go, a scary fall to the bottom teaches Caramba that even though he can't perform like they do, he can do something they cannot. He can swim. Gay's characteristic gentle and funny watercolor illustrations make the story more appealing and the characters more alive. Once kids accept the flying cats, they will enjoy this subtle fantasy with its themes of self-esteem and individuality.-Julie Roach, Watertown Free Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

What if it were perfectly normal for cats to fly-what if they could actually "leap off the cliffs and soar over the ocean... swoop and glide and skim the waves"? Then how would it feel to be the only cat who couldn't fly? That's the leap of faith Gay (the Stella series) asks readers to make, as she delivers her time-proven message: it's okay to be different. The eponymous, non-flying hero is a charmingly self-deprecating cutie. Poor Caramba tries to fly like other cats, and just as vainly tries to cover up his failures ("I'm looking for caterpillars," he tells his best friend, a pig named Portia, when she finds him lying face down on the ground). Then one day Caramba's cousins grab Caramba by the paws and bear him aloft, enabling him to "see forever." But it takes an accidental dunking for Caramba to discover his uniqueness (he can swim). The tale may seem overlong to make its point, but youngsters will likely be willing to go along for the ride because of Gay's dreamy, gossamer watercolors, which are beguiling from beginning to end. Her flying cats are not endowed with wings; rather, they fly simply by virtue of stretching out their arms in a kind of airborne ecstasy, their sinuous tails trailing behind them as they float above the white-capped, bottle-green sea. Ages 2-5. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

(Primary) ""Caramba was different from other cats. He couldn't fly."" With comical, scribbly illustrations, Gay (Good Morning Sam, rev. 7/03; Stella, Star of the Sea) creates a world where, yes, cats do fly -- except for young Caramba. Light, airy watercolors convey the immensity of both sea and sky, as pudgy, cliff-leaping cats flap their skinny arms and soar out over the ocean. Caramba's attempts, however, all fall flat, literally. Leaping from a chair, he lands on his grandpa's lap: ""'Ay, Caramba!... What are you doing?' 'I'm admiring your slippers,' muttered Caramba. 'They're very nice.'"" Finally, his cousins take matters into their own paws, carrying him up into the sky, where he experiences the wonder of flight. Then they let go, yelling advice as Caramba drops from the sky into the ocean -- where, underwater, he begins to glide and soar, ""free as a bird. It was like flying!"" No heavy moralizing about appreciating differences here; just a heartfelt tale that feels breezy and, like Caramba in his new element, light as a feather. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

K-Gr. 3. Caramba is despondent because he can't fly like all the other kittens. He tries to hide his failure, even from his porcine friend Portia, but cousins Bijou and Bug find out, hoist him into the sky, and let go. Does Caramba fly? Nope, he drops like a stone into the ocean--where he discovers not only a fascinating undersea world but also a very un-catlike ability to swoop and somersault through the water. Cats can't swim! Everyone knows that! cries Bijou. Well, I can, is Caramba's exuberant response. Young self-doubters will take heart from this imaginative reworking of an enduring theme, illustrated in Gay's delicate, appropriately splashy watercolors. --John Peters Copyright 2005 Booklist