Review of the ‘Coco: Big City Kitty’ series

Title: ‘Coco: Big City Kitty’ (and series)
Author: Laura Bunting
Illustrator: Nicky Johnston
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Age Range: early childhood
Themes: city vs country, nature, insects, crafting, change, friendship, family.

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Sometimes you find a book series that makes you smile from the inside out and the Coco series by Laura Bunting and Nicky Johnston, is one of those for me. I am loving sharing ‘Coco: Big City Kitty’ and ‘Coco and the Butterfly’ with little readers, their parents, grandparents and carers. Super pleased that a third in the series underway ( ‘Coco and the Bee’) as I can’t get enough of Coco, who is a small kitty as “white as marshmallow, except for her velvety brown paws, nose, ears and tail, which looked like they had been dipped in chocolate.”.

Image credit: Laura Bunting. Note the ‘extra information’ in the illustrations – the hospital band, ‘first fluff’ and paw prints.

Meet Coco…

In ‘Coco: Big City Kitty’ (Scholastic 2020) we meet Coco, born on the busiest night, in the busiest hospital in the busiest city in the world. She lives on the top floor of the tallest building on Meowington Avenue and her days are filled with all the action and noise that city living brings. Much like myself, Coco loves all things pink, making and crafting and writing lists –  lists make Coco and I very happy indeed. Unlike me, Coco really does not like bugs, so when her parents announce they are moving to the country she is less them impressed and has a lot of change coming her way.

As I have read ‘Coco: Big City Kitty’ with male and female readers from 3+, I have loved talking about things I have in common with Coco and things which are different – something I often do in order to model connection with character and to spark conversations about how we are all unique but can find commonalities. This is also a book series which really encourages development of visual literacy skills as so much extra information is carried in the illustrations. I start every picture book reading by saying ‘my job is to read the words, your job is to read the images and together they tell the entire story’.

In ‘Coco and the Butterfly’ (Scholastic 2021), Coco and her family have moved to the country and Coco is finding that Tabby Valley has no buzz at all – if you don’t count the bugs (number 1 on her Least Favourite Things List). As the story progresses, Coco discovers that change can be full of beautiful surprises.

The third book in the series will be released in September 2021 and is ‘Coco and the Bee’ – clearly I’m looking forward to this one.

So much more than ‘just’ beautiful books

Aside from being whimsical and warming, the Coco series is essentially about coping with change in your life, embracing new friendships and the joy that can be found in the natural world when we slow down to ponder and investigate its beauty.

The text by Laura Bunting is pitch perfect for a young audience and reads aloud beautifully. Nicky Johnston has created illustrations which support and extend the text and great care has clearly been taken to meld text and images to create a sophisticated final product with enormous child appeal. The work that goes into creating a book series of this quality goes largely unnoticed by the reader but just take a moment sometimes to look closely at the graphic design, typography and interplay between text and images in some of your favourite children’s books and offer up thanks to the teams behind them!

Image credit: Laura Bunting. Note the movement in the images, the placement of text, the double page spread.

There are gorgeous printable Coco activities here and I have made a few gift packs for young family and friends of the books, and printed activities, glue and scissors –  a craft kit and book gift is always a winner.

May 25, 2021 at 04:46PM Megan Daley