The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank – School Library Journal Review
This gentle introduction to one of the darkest times in modern history is narrated by an observant cat. Young readers learn about the Yellow Stars or Jews, who are forbidden to own pets or walk the streets, where the Black Spiders or Nazi soldiers patrol. Instead, they must hide in secret rooms, in zoos, in abandoned theaters—anywhere out of sight.
Mouschi tells about his boy Peter who lives with his parents and his classmate Anne and her family in the Secret Annex above a spice factory. By day, the eight people in the tiny, crowded attic sleep or lie still. “Because if just one of us steps on a creaky board, sneezes or knocks a book from a shelf, someone might hear and know Yellow Stars are hiding. And the Black Spider soldiers will come.”
Mouschi tells readers about Anne’s diary, “Kitty,” a moniker which he believes refers to himself. Several diary excerpts are interspersed throughout revealing Anne’s guilt for being warm and safe while her friends are “dropping from exhaustion or being knocked to the ground” in the streets. Youngsters understand there is a war and bombs, the Annex is in Holland, and the Jewish people are in danger. Still, the book ends on a positive note. As Mouschi and his people nap, they dream “...dreams more powerful than bombs. Dreams of Anne’s kind and gentle spirit...lighting up the world forever.”
The illustrations, created with ink, acrylic, pencil, and digitally, show the families in cramped dark quarters while the lovely Amsterdam streets are crowded with soldiers with vicious dogs, red flags bearing swastikas, and bombs. Historical notes and sources are appended.
VERDICT: This introduction to the Holocaust can also provide a starting point for more in-depth study, reading, and discussion.
–Barbara Auerbach, Cairo Public Library, NY