Book Review: What If I’m Not a Cat?

“A sweet, playful story about identity – and what it means to belong.”

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.

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The book

Why, of course Donkey’s a cat. He spends all his time with the other cats on the farm. He licks his fur and pounces, just like they do. He even cuddles with them at nap time. Though, he must admit, sometimes he does feel … a little off. So, when Farmer says to him, “Donkey, you’re acting like a cat!” it gets him thinking. What if he’s not a cat? And if not, then what is he? Will going off on his own help Donkey figure out what he is and where he belongs?

The review

Immediate post-read thoughts: wholesome, funny, heart-warming, insightful.

I think this book is a great tool to help teach children about accepting and celebrating differences.

The recommended age range for this book is four-to-seven years old, and I think the story and illustrations combined will be perfect for this audience.

The story gently guides the reader through learning that a person (or donkey!) doesn’t have to fit neatly into one box, category or label. It’s a lovely way of showing the reader that identity is comprised not only of physical traits, but of our actions, our connections, our values, and so on.

Writing-wise, I enjoyed the author’s use of sound (“mee-haw” got me every time!) to encourage the child to participate in an active reading process that allows them to be a bit silly and have fun.

I also like how the various characters have their own speech bubbles across the pages, again encouraging the child to engage with the story by spotting each bubble and looking at the different emotions expressed by each character.

The illustrations are beautiful and the style is an excellent match for the tone of the story.

Thank you, Kids Can Press, for providing me with this ARC.

What If I’m Not a Cat? is due to be published on 6th June 2023.

Bios from publisher profiles at Kids Can Press (

Kari-Lynn Winters is an award-winning children’s author, playwright, performer and academic scholar. An experienced teacher of writing, she has worked with students across Canada and the United States and is a professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Author-illustrator Kelly Collier was born in Ottawa and grew up in Toronto. She has an identical twin sister and an older brother. As kids, Kelly and her sister drew all the time, mostly in an effort to “outdraw” their brother. Kelly studied illustration in college and has had lots of editorial work published.

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