- Book Style: Toddler and children aged story book
- 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: The cutest cats I’ve ever seen
- 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, $XXX USD – Kindle
- Social Media Links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
Cats in Provence is the latest story in the award-winning Inca Book Series by R.F. Kristi. The books are about Inca and Company, a detective agency of cats, dogs, and other small animals. Inca and her friends work to solve mysteries.
In her latest book, R.F. Kristi puts Inca and Company in the midst of a painting heist. Early on in the story, we learn that a very expensive painting was stolen while in Aunt Florence’s charge. When Inca and her crew find out the painting has been stolen, they travel to Paris to look for clues. Once in Paris, Inca, Cara, Fromage, Monk, Terrance, Polo, Hobbs, and Charlotte work as a team, meet up with old friends, and eventually locate (and steal back) the stolen painting! Once they steal back the painting, they continue to work on the mystery of who stole it. In the end, their theories are proven partially right when a human detective breaks the case and explains it to Inca and Company.
Let me be clear. That’s a very simplistic version of a complex and long story that has a number of twists and turns. This book carries with it a number of stories and sub-stories that couldn’t be explained in a review article such as this. Instead of trying to do that, I’m going to simply explain to you that there are a number of great story lines to follow in this book. Your little toddler will love the fact that almost every character has a side-story that helps to engage children in the characters. Our author clearly understands how to compose a story for kids, and she does so in this third book.
I have to be honest about the fact that when I first received the book, I thought the story might be too difficult for my toddler. You see, this is a pretty long book and I wasn’t sure if it would keep him engaged. This was definitely the longest book we would ever attempt. What’s amazing is that because of the great characters and the numerous stories, my little guy stayed in tune with the story and wanted me to keep reading. At each (smartly placed) chapter end, he asked me to keep going and we actually finished this book in just two sittings. It was amazing to watch him become more and more interested, and I love that this happened with a book!
As I mentioned before, there are great characters. What I haven’t mentioned is just how many great characters there are. It’s amazing that the author has been able to fit so many characters in one story without confusing the reader (or the little ones with the reader). What I did find was that my toddler started to understand that the characters were mostly animals and so he’d ask me if a character was a person, a dog, or a cat. He was, of course, especially excited when it was a cat (because we have kittens right now).
The illustrations are second to none when it comes to importance for toddlers. Cats in Provence check every proverbial box in terms of illustrations, as they’re cute, funny, vivid, and colorful. The characters are all incredibly cute, and I love how they’re placed in real world scenarios. Need an example? See below for a picture of the cute cat Fromage sitting in a pot of melted cheese. If you can look away from Fromage for long enough, you’ll notice the ton of cheese wheels behind him and the cute little pig off to the right.
In the end, the illustrations are nothing short of unique. I can’t say that I’ve seen a style like this before in a toddler’s book. Simply put, I love it and I love how it accentuates the cuteness of the characters.
As I researched a little about R.F. Kristi and her children’s books, I found out a few things that I would like to share with you. I think she has an incredibly diverse background and as such, I think it’s important to share with you.
The most fascinating thing I found out about her is that she never intended to write children’s books. Her previous career was working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (jealous) in a strategy-style of position. Not only that, but she holds a doctorate in economic development. It’s just not the typical biography of a children’s author, especially not one who’s been met with such immediate success.
While R.F. Kristi isn’t your typical author, I did find a few things out about her that I think lend really well to this children’s author path that she’s put herself on. See, as we traded messages back and forth, I learned that she has an innate love for animals. It was that innate love that drove her to want to educate children about them. She found herself wanting 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. I personally share the same opinion of animals and how animals should be treated, and I’m betting most parents do.
One other thing that really solidified R.F. Kristi’s status as a great children’s author is simply the fact that she’s donating the proceeds from her Inca book Series to animal rescue efforts in developing countries around the world. You have to love that.
So? What’s the verdict, Brian?
Well, it’s pretty clear. it’s incredibly easy to recommend Cats in Provence for toddlers and children alike. It’s a book filled with fun characters, a great story, and wonderful illustrations. It’s lengthy, but it’s broken up into bite-sized chapters that toddlers will love. My little guy loved reading Cats in Provence with me, and I’m going to suggest that most will. Go ahead and check out the book on Amazon using this link. The book sells for an incredibly low price, especially when you consider the value!
Thanks for reading…to your toddlers,