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From The Asian Reporter, V21, #01 (January 3, 2011), page 14.
The Kittens of Boxville
Original story by Ryosuke Handa
Photographs by Yoneo Morita
Text by Tracy Sunrize Johnson
Chronicle Books, 2009
Paperback, 69 pages, $14.95
By Josephine Bridges
The Asian Reporter
Welcome!! At last you have discovered the fair seaside village of Boxville Sur la Mer! I see that you, like so many before you, wear upon your face a look of wonder and disbelief." With an opening like that, who can resist a tour of a town unlike any other, especially when your guides are the mischievous kittens who reside here "blissfully in cardboard houses beside the ocean."
The Kittens of Boxville comprises a group of linked narratives ó all documented with some of the finest kitten photography you will ever see ó involving late sleepers, searches for coffee, bird watching, kitten firefighters who "spend most of their time rescuing kittens from trees," the "Dance of the Bringing of the Breakfasts," a kitten-sized Spanish lesson, a nap, and baby kittens on a field trip to the aquarium.
The kittens themselves include protagonists Greta the Gray Tabby, Minnie the Maine Coon, and Boris the Russian Blue, with the supporting cast of Celia the Siamese, Malcolm the Scottish Fold ó a peculiar looking animal indeed ó and his wife the preschool teacher, and baby kittens Tiny Mickey and Tiny Nicky. "A serene Chartreux named Laurent" is, like the majority of the residents of Boxville on the day we visit, not at home. Neither is the fire crew ó American Shorthairs, Manxes, and a Norwegian Forest Cat ó nor Pauly Pancakes, the Ginger Tom who owns the restaurant. Even Borisís messy sister is away from her "rustic" cottage. Itís an unsolved, but believable mystery; cats do have a way of appearing and disappearing.
As for feline urban architecture, "this adorable wonderland was no accident of city planning. For centuries, cat scholars sat on the sea cliffs with their furry brows knitted in concentration, chewing on the challenge of how to build a functional cat utopia." Apparently those kitties of yore quickly overcame one challenge: "prized for its unmatched properties of coziness, bitableness, and climbableness, cardboard has long been the building material of choice for kitten carpenters." Doors, windows, and roofs provide countless opportunities for peeking, poking, and perching, as well as displays of highly photogenic paws and tails.
The Kittens of Boxville was originally published in Japan. Writer and kitten house architect Ryosuke Handa and photographer Yoneo Morita live in Tokyo, where we can only hope they are hard at work on a sequel.
There is only one problem with this town. "It is hard sometimes not to wish you could stay forever, but trust me, you cannot! So much fluffiness and coziness and precious purring all day long is only healthy for a kitten, and thatís why only kittens live in Boxville Sur la Mer." But donít despair, you can come back for a visit anytime.