Red Cat and Blue Cat seem to be enemies, until we learn that each cat secretly wishes he were like the other. Blue Cat is clever and Red Cat is fast and neither is happy just being himself. So blue cat has an idea: “If I turn myself red, I will become fast and bouncy!” Spying on him, Red Cat tries to do the same. Predictably, their scheme doesn’t go as planned and the two begin to fight. But after a tumble down the stairs, Blue Cat asks an important question: “Are you trying to be like me?”

“Maybe,” says Red Cat.

With this revelation, the cats help each other “become un-red and not-blue.” Instead of fighting, they teach each other the tricks of being clever and fast. Each cat works hard to be exactly like the other, but in the end, they both decide being themselves is best: “I can’t run as fast as you . . . but I am the best Blue Cat ever.”

With quirky pen-and-ink and charcoal drawings mixed with splotches of bright color, Jenni Desmond’s illustrations depict the chaos that follows the cats’ quarrels. The lesson of Red Cat, Blue Cat is predictable, but important for children who struggle with embracing their own identity. And the ending adds a clever twist when Yellow Cat arrives on the scene, promising another round of identity envy. I can’t wait to see what else Desmond has in store after such a strong debut.

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