Mélanie Perrault’s Like Cats and Dogs

By Meaghan Thurston

A review of Like Cats and Dogs by

Published on July 4, 2022

Like Cats and Dogs
Mélanie Perreault

Translated by Chantal Bilodeau
Illustrated by Marion Arbona

Second Story Press
$19.95
cloth
32pp
9781772602418

Rosalie is a little girl trying to navigate a relationship with her divorced parents who argue, as the title suggests, Like Cats and Dogs. Written by Mélanie Perrault, illustrated by Marion Arbona, and translated from French by Chantal Bilodeau, this is a book that approaches sensitive subject matter head-on. Rosalie is witty and matter-of-fact about her parents’ discord, but her underlying distress is ever present. “Yes, it’s true, Mom and Dad are not in love anymore. But I’m sure it could be better than this. How can they fight so badly when I love them both so much? All I wish is that they could watch me play hockey without snarling at each other the whole time.” 

Suspended in Arbona’s muted palette of red, pink, black, and white, Rosalie is determined to see the best in her parents, even if they cannot. Their arguments are taking a toll, and she desperately wants them to focus on their mutual love for her. She takes some comfort in their shared love – unbeknownst to them – of a special song.

For parents as conflictual as Rosalie’s, it will take some courage to read this book aloud. However, it is certain that it could inspire families to establish healthy boundaries and avoid overt conflict in co-parenting relationships. This would be a useful resource for family therapists and guidance counsellors. Even those families who experience the very normal occasional argument can learn from Rosalie’s credo: “I don’t care who is right and who is wrong. I just want to be free to love them both, and to love them loudly, all the time.”mRb

Meaghan Thurston is a Montreal-based arts and science writer, co-editor of With the World to Choose From: Seven Decades of the Beatty Lecture at McGill University, and mother to two budding readers.

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