New York archetypes are not rare in fiction — from the (allegedly) starving Lower East Side artist to the millennial nanny thrust among Upper East Side wealth. However, a children’s book coming out this fall is putting the spotlight on New York literature’s forgotten felines: bodega cats! (noun, sing.: those fuzzy creatures that sit on newspaper piles and Arizona iced tea packages at your local Latinx/Hispanic grocery.)
Louie Chin’s Bodega Cat is an illustrated adventure through the life of Chip, a cat at the Matos family’s bodega. Contrary to New Yorker belief, the cat does far more than take strolls in the perpetually empty cleaning supplies aisle. The book follows Chip through a day on the job, from inventory counting and making deliveries to mandatory pigeon-chasing with his human brother Damian.
Bodega Cat will be released by POW! Kids Books. The division of Brooklyn-based PowerHouse Books previously released a steampunk-based alphabet book (2014), a counting book about the plight of a headless robot (2015) and the official, Hasbro-approved guide to pinnacle Nerf blasting skills (2013). The publisher is no stranger to New York-centric literature. POW! is also home of Baby to Brooklyn, the hipster-bait children’s book comparing baby slang to the landmarks of North Brooklyn’s transplant generation, from Brooklyn Bowl to Domino Sugar Factory.
Chin, an illustrator of both commercial and editorial content, was born and raised in South Brooklyn, so bodegas have always been a part of his life. In addition to collaborations with Nike, the New York Times, Adidas and First We Feast, Chin creates “slice of life,” New York-focused sketchwork on his Instagram (@loubot). Popular culprits include subway passengers that are sleeping, waiting for the train or (*gasps*) conversing with strangers. Chin is also an animal lover (including animals not confined to stores). He previously illustrated the children’s book, Don’t Ask A Dinosaur.
Bodega Cat, the first children’s book he has both written and illustrated, comes out September 24. It’s available for pre-order now.