Not a Cat: a memoir (Hardcover)

Not a Cat: a memoir Cover Image

Not a Cat: a memoir (Hardcover)

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A funny, expansive, affirming story with a powerful message of self-determination for young kids: No one can label us if we do not allow ourselves to be labeled. Our identities are ours to choose and to live.


Between his opening greeting and the bookend closing page on which he stalks away after taking no questions, Gato wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Although he has four legs, two ears, and a long, long tail, the word “cat” does not define him. His identity is his alone to describe and determine. With the help of Danica Novgorodoff’s laugh-out-loud illustrations, he takes us on a tour of his adventures, accomplishments, and daily activities that makes mincemeat of our first impressions. He wears a sweater and a leash, so is he a dog? He runs in pastures, so is he a horse? He likes flowers, so is he a bee? He swims, so is he a duck? He has flown in airplanes and ridden in subways, so is he a person? Maybe he’s all those things, but what he truly is, he wants us to know, is Gato.


To underline the story’s message of empowerment and self-identity, the back cover and backmatter include photos of the real Gato (Winter Miller’s cat) doing everything he claims and more. Signs on walls, headlines in newspapers, New Yorker cartoon homages, and sight gags on every page reward repeated readings and will make this book the first one that parents reach for at bedtime.



Winter Miller is a playwright whose published plays include No One Is Forgotten, In Darfur, and The Penetration Play. She has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, and The Boston Globe, and her plays and essays appear in multiple anthologies. Winter was previously a journalist in the editorial department of The New York Times, at Fox News, and at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. She has been profiled in The New Yorker, Bomb, and on NPR’s Brian Lehrer Show and All of It with Alison Stewart. Not a Cat, Winter’s first picture book, is the story lived by her extraordinary cat Gato. Learn more about Winter and Gato at www.wintermiller.com.

Danica Novgorodoff is an artist, writer, and graphic novelist from Brooklyn, NY and Louisville, KY. Her graphic novel Long Way Down (Atheneum; adapted from Jason Reynolds’ novel) received starred reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, BCCB, and Booklist, the latter saying this: “Far more than just an illustration of the events of the novel, Novgorodoff’s iteration powerfully cultivates the tone and mood of its source material, demonstrating just how effective and artful comics can be.” Her other graphic novels include The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Refresh Refresh, and Slow Storm from Macmillan, and the self-published A Late Freeze. Her art and writing have been published in MoMA Magazine, Best American Comics, The Believer, Artforum, Esquire, VQR, Slate, Orion, Seneca Review, Ecotone Journal, The Arkansas International, and others. Danica’s works in progress include a graphic novel on climate change (MacMillan, in collaboration with journalist Meera Subramanian), a children’s book on the explorer Alexander von Humboldt (Penguin Random House), and a book on rice (Flatiron Books; in collaboration with Harlem chef JJ Johnson).
Product Details ISBN: 9780884488798
ISBN-10: 0884488799
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2022
Language: English
You will love Not a Cat. This is a friend in a cat suit!

— Gloria Steinem

Gato is my Yoda. I love this book.
— Samantha Bee

Add to the great philosophers in history, along with Plato and Kant, Gato the Cat. Well, maybe not a cat. Hmm. Just call Gato a cat searching for a sense of self, with verve, humor—and plenty to teach us along the way.
— Nicholas Kristof

Gato, like all really interesting people, contains multitudes.
— Jessica Love, author of Juliàn Is a Mermaid

Can a cat teach us to embrace our multitudes? When that cat is Gato, as interpreted by Winter Miller, the answer is yes.
— Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk

What a fun, absolutely gorgeous book. It will invite young readers to open up their perspectives. I'm in love with Gato!
— Maulik Pancholy, actor&Stonewall Honor-winning author of The Best At It All

“I don’t feel that ‘cat’ describes me,” a sleek gray tom announces at the start of this mod “memoir,” a children’s book debut “as told to” playwright Miller by her late pet, Gato. First outlining the numerous ways he’s similar to other animals (“Sometimes I eat grass. Maybe I’m a cow?”), Gato goes on to describe having many human-like experiences. Stylish unlined illustrations show the feline driving a taxi in San Francisco, taking the subway in N.Y.C., and sipping a milk cocktail beneath the Hollywood sign. “How do you know I’m not a person?” questions the cool cat, clad in a green track suit and gold chains, before the book concludes with a fitting challenge to labels’ utility. Novgorodoff’s illustrations aptly portray people of various abilities, ages, cultures, religions, and skin tones, and a final portrait of Gato beneath the framed, cross-stitched adage “You be you” resoundingly drives home Miller’s message of acceptance.

— PW

Between his opening greeting and the bookend closing page on which he stalks away after taking no questions, Gato wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Although he has four legs, two ears, and a long, long tail, the word "cat" does not define him. His identity is his alone to describe and determine.  


With the help of Danica Novgorodoff's laugh-out-loud illustrations, author/storyteller Winter Miller takes young readers on a fun tour of Gato's adventures, accomplishments, and daily activities that makes mincemeat of any first impressions. Gato wears a sweater and a leash, so is he a dog? He runs in pastures, so is he a horse? He likes flowers, so is he a bee? He swims, so is he a duck? He has flown in airplanes and ridden in subways, so is he a person? Maybe he's all those things, but what he truly is, he wants us to know, is Gato.  


Critique: Based upon the author's own feline companion, and to underline this message of empowerment and self-identity, the back cover and backmatter include photos of the real Gato (Winter Miller's cat) doing everything he claims and more. Signs on walls, headlines in newspapers, New Yorker cartoon homages, and sight gags on every page reward repeated readings and will make "Not a Cat: A Memoir" an truly fun picture book with a serious underlying message about self-determination. All the more impressive when considering that this is the author's first children's picture book, and while also available in a digital book format, "Not a Cat: A Memoir" is an original and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-5.




— Susan Bethany - Midwest Book Review