Lily's Cat Mask book cover

Author: Julie Fortenberry
Illustrator: Julie Fortenberry
ISBN: 9780425287996
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 4-6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1

Amazon Synopsis: Armed with a vivid imagination and her trusty cat mask, Lily can take on anything–even a new school…But when her teacher tells her no masks allowed in class, Lily worries, can she make friends without it? Anyone who has been daunted by a new experience, or struggled to put on a good face, will relate to Lily. Whimsical art brings Lily, her father, and her new classmates to life, with text that begs to be read aloud. Perfect for Father’s Day, back to school, and even Halloween–Lily and her grinning cat mask are sure to make you smile back.

My Thoughts

Lily’s Cat Mask is perfect for adults and kids alike, as just about everyone can relate to having some fear and anxiety around experiencing something new. First off, I absolutely adored the illustrations. They are colorful and simple with just the right amount of detail to appeal to young readers. The body language and facial expressions of Lily (when she’s not wearing the mask) really tell the readers how she is feeling. For instance, in the beginning it’s painfully obvious she does NOT want to go shopping.

The author doesn’t use the mask as a crutch for Lily but as a way to ease into new situations. She also uses it as a way to celebrate or demonstrate Lily’s excitement or happiness.  She uses it to both hide and stand out. How fun to have a mask on when she wants to be the center of attention.  Don’t we all at some point? On the other side of the spectrum, I can relate to and feel some of the inner turmoil Lily feels when she uses her mask as a safety blanket of sorts.

Does Lily’s Cat Mask teach kids how to overcome their anxieties? Perhaps overcome is the wrong word. I do think it helps allay some of the anxiety around the unknown, as well as new experiences, such as the first day of school and making new friends.

Overall, the story is well-written, and the pictures are delightful. 

Younger kids will like the colorful masks and costume party and will enjoy having the book read to them – but the target audience is for those just starting school. 

About the Author

Julie Fortenberry is the author and illustrator of LILY’S CAT MASK. She has illustrated several picture books, including “Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast” by Jamie Korngold and “Pirate Boy” by Eve Bunting (2012 Children’s Choice book). Julie lives in Philadelphia, PA. To see more of Julie’s work visit

Note: I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library.

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