The Cat At Night

I have no idea how I missed Dahlov Ipcar’s The Cat at Night as a kid and as a librarian, but loving this one late is certainly better than never.

A lady likely as charming as her books, Dahlov Ipcar once said she didn’t want fame, just “to be recognized.”

But what does the cat do out there in the darkness all night long?

Does he curl up on a chair on the porch and sleep all night?

The Cat at Night was originally published in 1969, and follows the nighttime adventures of a cat, when our world is dark and his is alive. The pictures (see a slideshow here) show our nighttime world: monochromatic and formless. Turn the page, and see the same scene from the cat’s perspective: vibrant and teeming with life and activity.


Contrast in design simply refers to showing how things are different. Because Ipcar is showing her reader differences in a cat’s night and our own, her use of contrast in her illustrations is a wise and unifying choice. And on top of that, they are just plain beautiful.

The pictures in this book serve as a sort of puzzle. The reader gets to work out a tricky concept, what the human eye can see at night versus what a cat can see at night. The contrast is in light and dark tones, in forms revealed and forms concealed, and in a world of color and a world without.

Perfect, understated, and clever pictures add depth to a very sweet and simple story.

Past the lovely pages, I also love the bold, graphic endpapers with their black, white, and dark blue color palette. And how adorable are the wide eyed night squirrels and field mice the cat encounters in his night?

This would be a great holiday gift book for anyone who loves art, stories, graphic design, clever pictures, cats, books, colors, or puzzles. Or anyone who doesn’t already know that horses sleep standing up. Their eyes and their hearts will thank you.

{That’s a lot of love for this book from this lady who doesn’t even really LIKE cats. Great design and great stories will always trump my fear of kitties.}