KAT AND JUJU
By: Kataneh Vahdani
Published: July 1, 2020
Publisher: Two Lions
Kat is a sweet girl who does things a little differently than the other kids. She likes to color inside the lines. She is perceptive and likes to tell her deepest secrets to her favorite tree instead of jumping rope or playing with friends. But, sometimes she gets lonely.
On her birthday, she waits for her special visitor, a bird named Juju. Juju helps Kat see the world in a whole new way, helping Kat be brave and try new things, but also still being Kat. Even when Kat was afraid, Juju and a surprise friend helped her see that she didn’t have to worry about what everyone else thought and did her very own happy dance.
I really loved the color scheme in this book. The pages pop with simplistic yet bold illustrations. I also love the diverse characters in Kat’s friendship circle including a redheaded boy and a black girl. All the kids have their own special friend like a tiger, a goldfish, and a bear and Kat couldn’t wait to find out who her friend would be.
I love that this book highlights kids who tend to be more introverted. But, for a picture book, I think the theme is a bit more advanced for kids to understand. I would read and discuss it with six or seven-year-olds who have had more exposure to feelings of loneliness or feeling awkward or different.
The author had the sweetest dedication which I am sure is what inspired this story. She dedicated this book to her own Juju bird and her kind mother who allowed her to draw on the walls. Be sure to check out the author’s biography below!
Kataneh Vahdani is a director, storyteller, professor, and mama bird. She was born in Iran but came to the United States in pursuit of her dream: to have a voice and be free. After receiving a degree in mathematics, she enrolled at California Institute of the Arts, spending seven years studying animation and earning her master’s degree. She later continued her education in Paris, France. Kataneh’s animated films have been screened at many festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival and the New York International Film Festival, where she was named Best Director of Animated Shorts. She worked for many years in the story department at Walt Disney Animation Studios and also taught story, design, and animation at CalArts and College of the Canyons. Kataneh is currently directing an animated feature. This is her first picture book.
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