On Sale Feb 16, 2021 – Pre-order Today
Named one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month for February
Named one of Barnes & Noble’s Most Anticipated Books for February
Perfect for story time, New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul’s funny and charming story about books, pets, and reading together will enchant readers of all ages.
This spunky, self-assured cat has always loved Rectangle Time–when the boy and the man he lives with curl up with their rectangle and read aloud from it. The cat knows how helpful he is during Rectangle Time, of course–his presence is vital to the very ritual! But when the rectangle starts to get smaller, the stories start to get quieter, and worst of all, the boy no longer needs the cat’s “help,” the cat must find a way to reclaim his part in Rectangle Time, even if slightly different from before.
In this fun, funny, and ultimately sweet story about growing up, embracing change, and the ways we all can misread social cues, we see the power of stories to bring everyone together–there’s always room for everyone at story time.
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Cats magically appear for cuddling when it’s readaloud time, and Paul (How to Raise a Reader, for adults) imagines the ritual from a feline’s point of view. “Oh, good, it’s time! They’re bringing out the rectangle,” says a self-interested calico as her owners, a light brown–skinned man and his young son, pull a book off the shelf. But what happens when the maturing reader learns to handle “rectangles” on his own? As the boy grows, the cat’s brash naivete elicits giggles. “Look at the poor little guy,” the cat says of the lone child, silently reading a chapter book: “He’s just… staring at the rectangle.” Solitary rectangle-handling, the calico discovers, means less cuddling. As the cat pesters the boy, the child’s inattention and a swat away creates doubt for the feline (“Eh, no big deal. It wasn’t on purpose. I get it”) before a final, fuzzy rapprochement ends in an accommodation for all. Placid, doll-like characters created by Cameron (Monet’s Cat) underscore the story’s comforting moments rather than adding antic expressions or frenetic action. With comedy that goes right over the head of the feline narrator, Paul’s clever, self-assured text offers owners (and their cats) some promising rectangle time of their own. —Publishers Weekly
Our narrator, a portly male calico cat, is delighted to explain his place in the important evening ritual of Rectangle Time—when the cat’s boy listens to his father read him a story from a cat-puzzling rectangle. The cat assists, of course, offering his chin for both humans to rub (and rubbing the rectangle so it feels important, too). As the story progresses, Rectangle Time begins to change. First, the boy and father read back and forth, so the cat lends its purrs to help. Then, the boy stares at the rectangle silently, so the cat stays close to keep him comfortable. As the boy becomes a more independent reader (and the rectangles grow smaller and smaller), the cat struggles to find his place in this new Rectangle Time. Line and watercolor in calm, pastel hues reinforce the joke and make our feline hero cuddly and personable. Clearly written by friends of felines, the text creates a narrator who is persistent, clever, and frequently annoy—er, incredibly helpful. Just beneath kitty’s enjoyable antics is a hopeful moral about growing up, teaching the listener that while they may change, their friendships can change along with them. Paul is particularly adept at creating a narrative whose structure echoes its story, as this readaloud is sure to become a read-along as the listener’s own literacy and vocabulary skills increase. It’s a perfect fit for cat fanciers enjoying a Rectangle Time of their own. –Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Told from the point of view of the pet cat, this story shows a reading family and the incremental ways in which a child learns to love books.A toddler-age boy and his father, who both have beige skin and brown hair, pick out a book every night to read before bed, and the cat thrills to know it’s “Rectangle Time.” That means a “furry nuzzle” against the corners of the book as the father reads The Snowy Day aloud to his child. Time passes with the page turns, marked in the narrative by the cat’s surprise to see the boy, now a bit older, reading an Encyclopedia Brown book on his own and, after that, the even older lad reading rectangles that are “awfully small” (squinting readers will see it’s The Hobbit). The cat’s self-centered but affectionate voice is entertaining as he remarks that the boy is so engaged in reading that he momentarily dismisses his pet. The story, with its warmly colored watercolor illustrations and expressive feline, feels like a primer for adults on how to get their kids to fall in love with books: The house is filled with them; the (apparently single) dad models reading; and he regularly read aloud to the boy before his son could do so himself. (The author, currently the New York Times Book Review editor, co-authored an actual primer, How To Raise a Reader, 2019, with María Russo, that outlet’s former children’s-books editor.) It’s not a story with a climax or falling action, but the resolution—in the end, the cat merely decides that sleeping on the boy’s face will do—will still satisfy readers, especially book and cat lovers everywhere. A sweet story about falling in love with reading. (Picture book. 4-8). —Kirkus
Any reader who has ever lived with a cat will recognize the antics of this book’s feline narrator. A chunky and supremely confident calico loves Rectangle Time (or as onlookers will note, lap-time reading), when he snuggles in a chair with a dad, his toddler boy, and their rectangle. Clearly the cat has no idea what reading is, and he becomes more puzzled as the boy grows and the father is no longer doing all the talking at Rectangle Time. Soon enough, the boy holds his rectangle by himself and nobody is talking at all. How lonely and quiet! The cat tries to be helpful in any way he can, adding background music with purrs, leaning in close for company, patting at the pages, and “enhancing” an open book by sitting directly on it. His services are not appreciated until the cat learns to drape himself around the boy’s shoulders. The words “reading” and “books” are never used in this kitty monologue, yet the story subtly celebrates the pleasures of being read to and of growing toward reading independence. The text works best when it is spare and shares the storytelling with the illustrations. A delicate line and soft washes portray a cozy home, a warm father-son relationship, and an adorably persistent, clueless cat. VERDICT A good option to hand educators needing to teach inference and for lovers of silly cats. —School Library Journal
New York Times Book Review editor Paul enters the picture-book arena on little cat feet, humorously adopting the egocentric perspective of a family’s feline. The story begins with a dad selecting a book (a “rectangle” in kitty speak) to read to his little boy. The calico narrates as the pair each holds one edge of the book in order to keep a hand free for petting her. She demonstrates other ways that she is involved in this pastime, like scratching her head on the book’s corner “to make the rectangle feel useful” and sitting on an open book to enhance it. As the story progresses, readers watch the boy grow up and change his reading habits, but the tenacious kitty always finds a way to stay close to her human and his reading material. Cameron’s springtime palette complements the story’s sunny tone and the cat’s many expressions are truly delightful. The running joke that the cat is actually being unhelpful will land hardest for adults, but kids will giggle over the familiar feline antics. —Booklist