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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Lola and the Rent-A-Cat
by Ceseli Josephus Jitta
Age Range: Under_5
Lola and John have been together fifty six years. They do everything together and are inseparable. “One day John falls down. His heart has stopped”. Lola suddenly finds herself on her own and she is devastated and lonely. After John’s funeral Lola finds the days are long as there is no one to look after any more. One night she visits www.rent-a-cat.com where experienced cats offer company and affection. Lola chooses number 313 called Tim and takes him into her home. With the companionship of Tim, Lola slowly begins to reminisce about the past, remembering all the good times with John which leads her to embrace life once again, giving her hope for the future.
Lola and the Rent-a-Cat is an innovative picture book that is both contemporary and universal. The sentences are short and straightforward without lapsing into sentimentality. Ceseli Josephus Jitta touchingly relates how people, as they get older, inevitably have to say goodbye to each other and to life.
The illustrations are distinctive having been created by using a variety of techniques. The pictures often occupy a double-page spread set against a background of old cashbook paper. They depict Lola and John growing old together and the trials and tribulations that it inevitably brings. Sparse text is cleverly used to depict Lola’s changing moods and Jitta adapts the colour of the illustrations accordingly; when Lola and John are still together the blazing red of a setting sun is their backdrop while John’s funeral is simply depicted with a few grey-brown lines. When Tim appears the pink, red, orange and purple make a cautious return.
This story is both sad and humorous in equal measure and Jitta effortlessly succeeds in transforming it from being about bereavement into a tale about the joy of life.