Poor Whimsy. All the little cat wants to do is make friends. But she’s not quite going about it the right way. She starts out fine enough, with a positive attitude and high spirits. She stays open-minded about who might make a good friend. There’s something to admire about everyone, it seems.
But when it comes to making friends, Whimsy doesn’t understand the concept of personal space. Or that her version of playing is too rough. Or why the birds she attempts to befriend react the way they do. Hello Whimsy! by Jean T. Ngo is the sweet story of a little cat who loves too much and too soon — at least, for all the birds around her.
Whimsy is almost ready to give up, and then she runs across a more familiar creature — a fellow cat. But Whimsy gets a little taste of her own medicine when she and her new friend start playing; he’s being way too rough. It’s not until she meets a boy named Will that she finds a gentle soul who will treat Whimsy like the person she really is inside.
Whimsy and the characters she meets are adorably presented by the author in colorful and expressive illustrations that make use of different cinematographic shots and angles. This is a book just begging to be animated. Moments of visual humor will set your child into fits of giggles over Whimsy’s antics.
MAGIC REALISM AND IMPORTANT SOCIAL LESSONS
There is an imaginative magic realism element to the story as Whimsy the cat transforms into Whimsy the human upon meeting Will. Was she human all along? Or does being with a human just make her feel more like one? The answer to this question doesn’t really matter; we are happy to follow Ngo’s tale into that liminal space between the logical, the metaphorical and the magical.
Hello Whimsy! conveys some subtle messages to young children about making friends. It can engender a conversation about personal space — how much is enough and what to do if someone is making you uncomfortable by invading it — not to mention what to do when someone is playing too rough. It demonstrates how friendship is a process that takes time and patience, and not everyone is going to want to be your friend right away (or maybe ever).
But most of all, Hello Whimsy! is about finding your tribe — the people around you who make you feel most like yourself. The ones you keep for life.
Hello Whimsy! is available now for preorder online and will be released on August 5, 2021.
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About Jean T. Ngo:
Jean T. Ngo is a writer and artist of mixed ethnicity living in Southern California with her cat Misty, whom Whimsy is modeled after. Misty was found under the house as a kitten along with her sister Josie, and is now the furry light of Jean’s life. She’s undoubtedly grateful for the love, shelter and many, many, belly rubs she receives. Jean likes to spend her time off talking to roses, daydreaming, or having a cup of tea. Alita M. Ngo, Jean’s mom, also deserves a shout-out for helping to edit Hello Whimsy! Alita is an aspiring writer herself and likes to hang out with cowboys and Indians by the seashore in her spare time — preferably with a lighthouse in sight.
Cynthia Conrad is a BookTrib staff member. An editor and marketer by trade and a poet and songwriter at heart, she was formerly an editor of the independent literary zine Dirigible Journal of Language Art. She has also worked with business author Bruce Tulgan and fiction writer Gevera Bert Piedmont. She lives in New Haven, CT with her Siamese, Vito.