- Book Style: Kids multi-part storybook
- Reading Level: 3 (Reading Alone due to: Length of book and some descriptive vocabulary)
- Reading Length: 30-35 minutes (FYI – we never account for toddler questions)
- Illustration: Cute, colorful, realistic
- Age Target: 4-12 Years of Age
- Author: R.F. Kristi
- Author’s Page: Amazon, Inca Book Series
- Book Purchase Page: Cats in Provence – Amazon – $12.99 USD Paperback, $3.02 USD – Kindle
- Social Media Links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
Cats in Provence is a great multi-part storybook for kids that follows the award-winning Inca Book Series and the great cat characters in that series. This book is the latest installment by R.F. Kristi, who built the series about “Inca and Company”, a detective agency made up of animals.
In this installment, Inca and Company find out that Aunt Florence has lost a very expensive painting and they instantly charge to her rescue. They find out that the painting has been stolen, and they travel to Paris to look for clues. From there, Inca, Cara, Fromage, Monk, Terrance, Polo, Hobbs, and Charlotte work as a team, meet up with old friends, and eventually locate the stolen painting! Once found, they come up with a daring plan to steal back the painting and return it to Aunt Florence and Missy (who they “own”). The team successfully steals back the painting and then thinks they’ve solved the case of who stole it. In the end, they learn the whole story when a human detective breaks the case.
Now, that’s a quick breakdown of an extremely full storybook. I couldn’t possibly give you an insight into all of the great stories (and sub-stories) that this book contains without writing for the next ten minutes. I don’t want to do that (and you don’t want to be bored), so just trust me when I say that the summary above is missing a great deal of the story lines you’ll read with your little one. What I can say about the story is that it’s extremely engaging for children and it builds very well to a conclusion. Each chapter builds on the last and introduces a little more intrigue. It’s clear to me that the author really knows what she’s doing when it comes to composing a story for kids.
As I leafed through the pages of this book, I was concerned that the book might be too long for my 4 year old. There are a ton of pages and this would definitely be the longest book we had ever tackled together. Instead of the length being a problem, what I found is that R.F. Kristi (our author) has broken down the book into chapters that are a great size and length for young children. It took us a couple of sittings to finish the book, but my little guy wanted me to finish the book on our second night. He asked for me to finish the book, and I think that’s pretty telling.
What is probably the most amazing thing about this book is the sheer number of characters, places, and items that are introduced. Throughout the book, I counted over 20 characters and the funny thing is, my child never got lost with them all. There were a few times that he asked me if a character was a person, a dog, or a cat, but that was all he ever asked about them. He was retaining all of this great information, and was becoming interested in the characters and their story. What’s also great about this is your child is guaranteed to absorb a monumental amount of information.
One other thing I should mention is that this book is heavily influenced by the French culture. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure there is no stronger culture in the world and I love that this book exposes my child to it. From the locations, to the names of the characters (Fromage, anyone), to the descriptions found within the story, this book imparts a feeling of French culture.
It’s not everyday that I take the time to learn about an author and share that knowledge with you. In the case of Cats in Provence (and R.F. Kristi), I feel it’s important. The reason for that is that I can tell this is an up and coming author who’s going to have a lot of success not only with this cast of characters, but also with children’s books in general.
What I find fascinating about this author is that she truly never thought about writing children’s books. Previously, she worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund in a strategy-based position. She holds a doctorate in economic development, and has an innate love for animals. It’s just not what I would typically associate with an author, let alone a children’s author.
As I pondered the fact that she’s not your typical author, I also gained a little insight into who Kristi is. As we traded messages back and forth, I learned that her incredible love for animals put her on a path of trying to enlighten children. She wanted to help children understand that animals have personalities and feelings, and that they should be treated kindly, loved, and appreciated as the beings they are. That’s a lovely thought, and I know that it’s a message I want to share with my child (even when our dog frustrates me).
Kristi, who lives in France, also has a philanthropic nature and has stated to me that proceeds of the Inca Book Series will be donated to animal rescue efforts in developing countries around the world. You have to love that.
What’s more important than an illustration to a child? Candy.
Other than that, the illustrations rank right up there. I love Cats in Provence’s style, and I will say that the style carries on from the other two books in the series (see them here). The characters are all incredibly cute, and I love how they’re placed in real world pictures. See below for exactly what I mean. There’s Fromage, sitting in a pot of melted cheese with a ton of cheese wheels in behind him. Also, note the pig tucked in there just to give your little ones something to laugh at.
The style of these illustrations is unique. I can’t think of another book we’ve reviewed here at Kids Fun Channel that looks anything like this. I simply love the cats, their expressions, and how much these illustrations add to the fun found in this book.
It’s pretty easy to recommend the third book in the Inca Book Series. Cats in Provence is a fun, interesting, and well illustrated story book that provides a great deal of value. The characters are fantastic and the story is even better. The French cultural influence is a real positive for me as well because that’s such a rarity and I think it’s great for kids to learn about other countries and cultures. My child loved reading Cats in Provence, and I’m going to guarantee that yours will too, especially for the low prices the book sells for on Amazon. Go ahead and click through to check out the book!
Until next time, Smash, Crash, and Learn!