JFH Siever’s picture book Myrna: Myrna in the Window is the creatively told tale of a cat adopted by a family into a new home.
Myrna, a young outdoor cat, finds a solution for cold weather and snow: a spot inside a red brick house’s exhaust vent. As she enjoys the warm steam, she notices a pair of eyes approaching. Soon comes an offer of food from a human, and the book transitions to Myrna’s place in her new home. She meets her new feline housemates and falls asleep in a high window, contentedly looking down on where she once wandered.
Myrna is a sweet, uncomplicated story. What stands out most is the author’s choice to narrate in Myrna’s voice. When Myrna is out in the snow, for example, Siever describes the scene in short, simple, though awkwardly worded thoughts: “It’s cold! What is white coming down, flakes, snow flakes. I’m getting wet. Keeping low and quiet, and move slowly under the brush. Where am I? What is that noise?”
The author may be using this stream-of-consciousness technique as a way to reflect the cat’s way of thinking. If so, it’s often effective. But it can also be hard to decipher: “I can slid under”; “Stop, look, and listen is something waiting?” An afterword by the author, while enlightening as to the book’s real-life inspiration, also exposes sentences that could have benefited from an editor: “I love animals and concerned for their well being…”
Dwight Nacaytuna’s illustrations are simple but sweet. He portrays Myrna’s natural movements convincingly and offers a nice variety of colors and textures in the backgrounds, depicting fallen leaves, snow, a wooden fence and brick siding.
Despite its problems with sentence structure, a real warmth and sweetness shines through this gentle story—a quality that young children, particularly cat lovers, may find redeeming.
Also available as an ebook.