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The Cat's Pyjamas: Book review


by tvnz.co.nz's Darren Bevan

The Cat's Pyjamas - 101 Of The World's Cutest Cats is the kind of book which you can open at any given page, show someone the picture (of the cat) and you're guaranteed to elicit an Ahhhh reaction.

According to the publicity I received with this book, Rachael Hale is one of the world's leading animal portrait photographers.

And looking at the pictures within, it's fairly obvious why.

They are simply stunning, sumptuous shots of 101 different varieties of the feline species.

In her introduction Rachael explains that she's not set out to definitively catalogue all of the best cats; merely showcase some of the best portraits she's taken over the years.

I can't imagine anything trickier - cats don't tend to pose naturally for pictures in the same way a dog's content to sit there and gaze adoringly into the photo lens as slobber drools from the corner of its flapping chops.

But yet over 221 pages, Rachael's taken some beautifully evocative shots - of many different varieties.

From the Bengal to the British Shorthair; the classic tabby to the Sphynx bicolour, this is a task which is no mean feat.

Granted some of the shots fall into the "too cute by half" category - The Chinchilla Persian (white) is wrapped up in a white snow blanket and the Temple Cat (cream variety) is asleep atop a teddy bear - but let's face it, a book like this was always going to tug at the heart strings in some form or another.

However, when the shots are cats without props, it's easy to understand why some people are so fiercely passionate about the breeds they love - there's a stark simplicity to the cat looking into the lens which clearly captures the magnificence of their race.

Every shot is centred around the cat's eyes and at times, while quite piercing to look at, they perfectly seize the spirit - and personality - of the animal.

Each of the breeds mentioned in the book has some background and defining traits - but honestly, this book is more about the visuals than the written word.

I've always thought cats were a slightly snooty breed - they have an air of tempered snobbery when they look at their owners, a sort of "I'm tolerating you right now, but don't push it" approach - but I think this book has gone some way to redressing those thoughts.

The portrait pictures capture the essence of the animals in every single shot - there's oodles of character in every cat's face which has been caught by Rachael.

This is simply a must have reference book for any feline lover - it's clear that it should be Volume 1 as I can't imagine Rachael will have had an easy job selecting which were the final shots and there will be plenty of out-takes.

Rating: 7/10

Title: The Cat's Pyjamas - 101 Of The World's Cutest Cats
Author: Rachael Hale
Available: Now
RRP: $34.99
Publisher: Hachette

 


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