Lola and the Lease Cat
Lola en de leasekat (Lola and the Lease Cat) is an innovative picture book that is both contemporary and universal, telling a story which has a wide scope and yet is written with touching simplicity. In short, straightforward sentences, without lapsing into easy sentiment, Ceseli Josephus Jitta touchingly relates how people, as they get older, inevitably have to say goodbye to each other and to life. This includes Lola and ‘her Jan’, who have been together for a lifetime. ‘One day Jan falls down. His heart has stopped.’ After fifty-six years together, Lola is on her own.
Jitta, however, effortlessly succeeds in transforming this story about bereavement into a tale about the joy of life. After Lola has buried Jan, she visits www.leasekat.nl, the Dutch version of www.rent-a-cat.com, and brings a new love into her home: rent-a-cat Tim. Beautiful memories of the past lead Lola to embrace life once again, giving her hope and a future. And so the final sentence is: ‘Tomorrow’s another day.’
The distinctive illustrations, created using a variety of techniques against a background of old cashbook paper and often occupying a double-page spread, tell their own story and prompt a laugh and a tear: they depict the beauty of wrinkles, the happiness of two crooked backs keeping each other in balance, and the inevitability of our mortality.
Jitta cleverly uses a few lines to depict Lola’s changing moods in an expressive way and adapts her colour palette accordingly: when Lola and ‘her Jan’ are still together she uses the blazing red of a setting sun – how appropriate – as a background. Jan’s funeral is simply depicted with a few grey-brown lines, illustrating the way that loss takes the colour out of life. And with Tim’s arrival, the pink, red, orange and purple make a cautious return.
In this little, large story, picture and text harmonise magnificently. Not one word too many is used, nor one brushstroke too few. Past and future flow together in the present, whose power Jitta celebrates with intense feeling.
By Mirjam Noorduijn