Ayano Imai

When a gifted shoemaker finds himself out of work, his trusted companion the cat takes upon himself to save his master’s business. So the shoemaker does what the cat requests by making him the most beautiful pair of red boots before he takes to the road. Because the cat has a plan, and it involves tackling the local monster, who lives in a nearby castle. Will the cat outwit the monster, and save the shoemaker from poverty?

Puss in Boots or Le Chat Botté is one of the most commonly known fairy-tales in France, and originally dates from 1697. But this new adaptation strays from the original tale by offering an alternative storyline, and author/illustrator Ayano Imai makes it very much her own. Here, rather than a prince, it is a shoemaker that the cat serves, but the feline hero and his magnificent boots still take centre stage. Puss & Boots is very much a tale of wit. Despite his fierceness, size and power, in the end the monster is unable to outwit the cat, whose perspicacity prevails, and gets caught out.

The artwork is particularly atmospheric, using a beautiful soft palette of colours. It is sufficiently contemporary-looking, yet the artwork allows it to retain a traditional and poetic feel. Whether you know the orginal tale or not, the illustration style conveys a fairy-tale setting. It is certainly a very beautiful book to look at. Although very feline looking, the main protagonist manages to remain very human in his expressions. There is also, of course, an impressive gallery of boots to look at!

This is an inspired new take on a traditional tale from a young illustrator who deserves to be discovered and admired.

All artwork © Ayano Imai
Many thanks to Bounce Marketing for providing a review copy of “Puss & Boots”