The Rabbi's Cat

~by Joann Sfar
2006 Eisner Award Winner

The Rabbi's Cat is one of those books I encounter over and over again. I absolutely adore the cover, so it's not surprising that I would pick it up to look at time after time. But, when I would glance at the internal art, it wouldn't really grab me and I would put the book back on the shelf. I would do this every time I came across it.

Then, one day, I happened upon a beautiful copy at a fantastic local used book store. So, I gave it another shot. I opened the book and this time actually read a page at random. I literally laughed out loud. I flipped to another page, and the same thing happened. And then again.

First of all, I don't usually laugh out loud while reading; normally, I keep it to myself. Secondly, its been a very long time since I've had a good laugh. So, I decided to purchase the copy, and I haven't regretted a bit. The artwork even grew on me.

The Rabbi's Cat collects the first three tales: The Bar Mitzva, Malka of the Lions, and Exodus. The loosely connected stories take place in 1930s Algeria and follow the lives of a widowed rabbi, his beautiful daughter, and, of course, their cat (who also happens to be the narrator). In The Bar Mitzva the cat gains the power of speech by eating the family parrot and immediately begins telling lies. In Malka of the Lions a dear family friend and relative comes to visit. And in Exodus the rabbi, the cat, and the newly married daughter and her husband travel to Paris to meet the in-laws. All three stories are delightful, charming, and funny. The characters and range of themes covered in this short book are wonderful.

The cat, of course, is simply marvelous.