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City Cat

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A plucky stray cat takes a Grand Tour in Kate Banks' story of a family on a European vacation. As the family travels from one city to the next, the cat finds its own means--by bus, boat, train, truck, and bike--to tag along on the trip, visiting historic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Cathedral of Notre Dame along the way. Readers will pore over the spreads to find  where City Cat is hiding in each city, and detailed backmatter explains the history behind the sites in each locale.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published November 19, 2013

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About the author

Kate Banks

72 books39 followers
Kate Banks has written many books for children, among them Max’s Words, And If the Moon Could Talk, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and The Night Worker, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She grew up in Maine, where she and her two sisters and brother spent a lot of time outdoors, and where Banks developed an early love of reading. “I especially liked picture books,” she says, “and the way in which words and illustrations could create a whole new world in which sometimes real and other times magical and unexpected things could happen.” Banks attended Wellesley College and received her masters in history at Columbia University. She lived in Rome for eight years but now lives in the South of France with her husband and two sons, Peter Anton and Maximilian.


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5 stars
101 (20%)
4 stars
154 (31%)
3 stars
176 (36%)
2 stars
44 (9%)
1 star
12 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 103 reviews
Profile Image for Mir.
4,778 reviews4,983 followers
July 26, 2017
The cat was cute, and I enjoyed the detailed illustrations of European cities, a number of which I have visited. However, the text wasn't very interesting and I'm not sure how much the average kid would get out of this. Also, is the cat the pet of the family, or just following them? If the former this is not a very safe way to travel with an animal, letting it wander all over. If the latter... uh, what?

This would be fun to buy if you are planning a multi-destination trip with children. You could read it first and look of the landmarks. Or for cats, if that's what your child prefers. (My sister recently took her three-year-old to Spain, where my niece appears to have enjoyed making friends with every pigeon and cat she met, and eating sardines. Actual destinations, pfft.)
Profile Image for Anthony Fitzgerald.
71 reviews3 followers
January 9, 2016
While I love this book because I have a black cat living in New York City, and the cat travels to several European destinations I've been to, the way the story reads is just a bit awkward. There feels like it wants to have a specific pace (rhyming or such), but then randomly doesn't, so you end up stumbling over words. I think either go with the rhyming scheme or just tell a regular story...
Profile Image for Kristina Jean Lareau.
2,930 reviews35 followers
February 13, 2016
I like the concept of this book and I really liked the artwork. It is great for travellers, but overall it is much too long as a picturebook. I lost interest about halfway through because the narrative really just shows of the artwork of various famous cities around the world instead of applying an actual plot.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews173 followers
February 28, 2019
A cosmopolitan cat follows a vacationing Italian family around Europe in this charming poetic picture-book, visiting eight cities, from Marseille to Barcelona, London to Berlin. In each city he sees the sights - Notre Dame in Paris, the cat boat sanctuary in Amsterdam - and experiences the local culture, before hitching a ride to his next destination. In the end he returns, along with the Italian family's whose trip he has mirrored, to his home in Rome...

The text of City Cat reads incredibly well, slipping off the tongue in poetic twists, with rhymes and almost-rhymes, and an engaging rhythm that makes the experience a pleasure. The artwork, done by Caldecott honoree Lauren Castillo, is equally engaging, capturing the eponymous feline's happy wanderlust and the beauties he witnesses to perfection. Equal parts educational - the afterword includes a bit more information about each city visited - and entertaining, this is a picture-book I would recommend to young cat lovers, to young would-be travelers, and to anyone looking for children's stories that teach a little bit of geography while also keeping young children engaged.
Profile Image for Linda .
3,612 reviews39 followers
August 29, 2016
A cat tags along with a family on a European vacation, visiting familiar landmarks, although many might have to be told about them, or even what and where they are. The text doesn't give a hint except in the illustrations, focuses in some rhyming text on the cat, where he is hiding, how he manages all those transportation types. It's a delight to see Lauren Castillo's illustrations, so recognizable, simple detail, lots of color. And, I love seeing City Cat lying up on Notre Dame Cathedral with that gargoyle!
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,328 reviews451 followers
July 17, 2014
While a family leaves Rome on a tour of European cities, a cat shadows their tour, popping up in all the same places. Lovely because it features less common spots: Marseille, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Munich are underrepresented in picture books. There's back matter to give a little more info on the specific sites shown.

I'd dearly love a whole series of these with cats touring all the continents, because cats.

Library copy
Profile Image for Gina.
Author 5 books22 followers
April 26, 2017
The illustrations were pretty good but the narrative was very disjointed and I think it will be weird for kids.
Profile Image for Jillian Heise.
2,270 reviews474 followers
September 13, 2013
3.5 stars
The illustrations are perfect representations of each city. Having just been in Venice, Italy this summer, when I turned to that page I felt like I was transported right back there. A wonderful journey through Europe with country flags to help clue into which country each illustration is in. Kids could have fun spotting the little boy seeing the cat in each stop on their vacation. There is a nice rhythm to the text; however, the repetition of the name "City Cat" got old pretty quick. I felt it was overused taking me out of the story a bit.
Profile Image for Kelsey.
2,307 reviews55 followers
January 30, 2014
Age: Preschool-2nd grade
Travel: Europe

I'm torn about this book. I really liked the different places and the artwork. There's also a neat inside cover to mark the travels of City Cat and end papers on each landmark that City Cat visits. Kids will also enjoy finding City Cat in each picture. Unfortunately, there is no plot, no written identification of each location (except in the end papers) with a slightly jarring rhyme scheme so it gets boring really fast. I think children will start to zone it out and just get excited with the search-and-find of the cat.
Profile Image for Jennifer Heise.
1,644 reviews55 followers
December 11, 2017
Entertaining travel fare, with charming illustrations and maps, with our intrepid but adorable cat protagonist. Some parts were confusing (is s/he associated with the family he keeps travelling with, or not?) but still a fun read
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,701 reviews208 followers
December 31, 2020
A very fun book, Kate Banks writes some wonderful picture books Close Your Eyes & The Great Blue House were two favorites when my kids were young), and I love Lauren Castillo's art (the family in this story looks a lot like the family in What Happens on Wednesdays). Young children will have fun finding the cat on each page, and they will feel very clever when they realize it is the same family shown again and again in each city.

Of course, the cat's travels are not realistic, because no bus driver or train conductor is going to let a cat trot on board! There is also an air of mystery: is it the family's cat? Is the cat following the family on purpose? is the cat having fun?

The words have a lovely rhythm to them, but there's not much plot other than "cat travels to different cities."

Unless you're a real traveler, the cities will not all be immediately recognizable, so it's a good thing there's a map and legend on the first page to tell you where they are. Each country visited also has that country's flag depicted somewhere on the page, so this could be a fun geography lesson.
Profile Image for Lacy.
620 reviews44 followers
June 28, 2019
I read quite a bit of YA Fantasy so of course I love books with maps. This is the first time I've seen a Children's book have one! That alone makes me want to give City Cat 5 stars!

So City Cat kept popping up in my recommendations page here on Goodreads and I finally looked it up at my library and they had it so I checked it and I'm very glad I did! It was a very cute story! It would also work well adapted as a cartoon. It reminds me of all the older Nick Jr stuff.

My critiques: The rhyming was a bit off in places and there's no real plot other than kitty traveling. I was also reading this book to my cat and stopped halfway cause it's kind of a long book for a picture book and I was already tired of reading it out loud.

It would be a good book to read before a family trip or vacation.

I'll be adding this one to my collection. 🐱🚗🗺📚🧡
Profile Image for Cecilia.
820 reviews
September 5, 2018
This book's illustrations and story in general are very cute. However, the words' cadence seems to be all over the place. It was a very hard book to read aloud with any kind of pattern in tone, not because it was written in paragraph form, but because the form seemed inconsistent. The words chosen also sometimes become tongue twisters. Probably not an ideal story time book, but it could easily be a good book for a slightly older child reading on their own.
Profile Image for BiblioBeruthiel.
1,886 reviews15 followers
November 16, 2017
This book was super luke warm for me. Definitely not a storytime option (far too long), and on top of that is just isn't very exciting. I liked the art, and I see what the author was going for, showing multiple famous landmarks from European countries, but the text itself was not something I found engaging. Even a lot of the art is pretty, but very passive.
Profile Image for April.
491 reviews15 followers
September 1, 2018
3.5 Stars

I want to like this book more than I did. A great concept, just poorly executed. The poetry is nice at points, unthoughtful at others. A little hard to figure out the story of this cat as there isn't any plot, really.
Profile Image for Alexandria.
130 reviews
April 4, 2022
Pretty illustrations. I was able to tell where the locations were by the landmarks. I got most of them right. Quiet and meandering, definitely for an older picture book reader who is looking for something calm and sweet.
Profile Image for Darin.
296 reviews
March 22, 2019
This city cat sure gets around! I liked the coverage of several countries and popular sites, and the information at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Kitiara.
6 reviews
July 15, 2019
I love cats so I was excited to read this to my daughter. It was a bit long and repeated the words “City Cat” way to many times.
September 19, 2019
Cute and smart, full of cookie sentences and adorable for children and adults. And I got to see so many cities in Europe that I’ve been too. It warmed my heart, especially after seeing Munich!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 103 reviews

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