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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Sunny and the Cats, written by Victoria Otto and illustrated by Teguh Sulistio, is a children's picture book that revolves around two separate pet villages and the animosity between them, which is founded on fear. The neighboring pet villages segregate cats from dogs, with the cats residing in the quiet, clean, and calm Meow village, and the dogs in Woof village, described as loud, smelly, and filled with laughter. Sunny, a puppy in Woof village, does not understand why the dogs and cats cannot play together. Despite being told their ways of living are too different and after overhearing a conversation with the cats, Sunny jumps into action when a need arises and this leads to an unexpected outcome.
The timing of Sunny and the Cats is perfect, given the issues many children are exposed to in a climate where adults seem to be preoccupied with stereotypes. Victoria Otto shows us that even with personality and physical differences, the care we show one another by helping our neighbors, seeing their differences as a positive, and living harmoniously, can lead to a thriving inclusive community with a much better quality of life. As a person of color raising children, the message is strong and Otto's use of pets can deliver it comfortably, even to the youngest readers. As for the illustrations, Teguh Sulistio is a true artist and brings Sunny and the residents of Woof and Meow villages into brilliant, colorful life. This is an excellent little book and I am more than pleased to add it to our nightly bedtime rotation.