Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘picture books about cats

A friend of mine and I like to collect cat books. What follows is a review of three picture books from her collection and one from mine. Two of the books are about homeless cats, a topic dear to my heart. The other two books are simply fun reads.

SenorCatSenior Cat’s Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America is a collection of six popular Cuban stories retold by Lucia Gonzalez. Each story is followed by an explanation of its background and a short glossary. The sole cat story is the title one and written in poetic form. It tells of a cat who sat on a throne drinking spiced milk in his stockings of silk and golden shoes. One day he receives a note from a servant that informs him he’s about to be married. Upon being wed to his love, Sir Cat reacts in such excitement that he falls off the church roof and to his supposed death. Thank goodness cats have multiple lives! My friend used to sing this song in Spanish in grade school. The tale is also the one the author says she most enjoyed illustrating, and sand over and over as she painted the cats.

NobodysCatNobody’s Cat by Barbara Josse is based on a real-life experience by the author. In a straightforward and simple style, the author tells of a feral cat that didn’t belong to anyone but had babies she needed to care for. One crisp fall day, when her milk ran out, the feral cat ventured towards a nearby home of people. A boy came out. The feral cat wanted to run, but she stayed for the sake of her kittens. The family fed her a bowl of cream and this became milk for her babies. Then each new day, the feral cat deposited a kitten on the porch of this family until all her babies had found homes. I liked this story from start to finish, even if in real life, feral cats might take more time to adjust to humans. The parental love that the feral cat shows rings true to other experiences people have shared. If you enjoy this book, you’ll probably also enjoy Nobody’s Cats by Valerie Ingram.

BestFriendBest Friend by A.M. Monson tells of an unlikely friendship between a cat and a mouse. At the start, the two are playing checkers, and Cat is a clear champion. Mouse wants to play a different game, but Cat isn’t willing to compromise, and so the two separate. Cat is so determined to have his own way that he even puts out an advertisement in the community paper for a friend. Several residents answer Cat’s advertisement, but each has something wrong with them. One is too messy, another prefers sports, and a third is a daredevil. Whatever will Cat do? This story could’ve just as easily been about any two other animals, but my friend and I picked it due to a cat being one of the main characters. This is a sweet story about appreciating the friends you have.

ChristmasKittenPerfect for the holidays is The Christmas Kitten by Andrew Charman. The adventure starts out in an animal shelter, where cats of all sizes were enjoying themselves. They were happy to be inside and to have a regular source of food, even if the surviving the shelter meant dealing with a few fights. All the cats were content that is except Oliver. He wanted a family, and decided to escape to find his dream. If you’ve ever read Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman you’ll find the structure for the rest of the story familiar. First, Oliver encounters mice, next dogs, then bears, and finally the big zoo cats. Some of the animals are scared and others think themselves too good for Oliver. But even when he’s accepted, none of the animals feel like family. Then he meets another cat, who shows him where the real source of family is. Other than my disliking that shelter cats were portrayed as being pleased with their lot in life, which is nothing like reality, I adored this book.

This review is dedicated to Marlo, who regularly surprises with packages full of all things cat. There might be a toy, a movie, or a book. If you want to read more about her story, follow this link: Bonded Together by CKD.

A cat acquaintance of mine recommended Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill to me. She and her children find it their favorite book about cats. After realizing that Averill was the author of the I Can Read picture book The Fire Cat, I bought a copy of Jenny and the Cat Club for myself and another cat friend. Since then, I have come to adore this series of stories about a cute black kitty and hope you will too.

Jenny Linsky is a shy cat. This is my number one reason for liking Averill’s stories. The literary world is full of mean cats, grumpy cats, obnoxious cats. So is the real world, of course. However, the real world is also full of sweet cats, playful cats, and lovable cats. Surely, despite the need for conflict and angst in a story, there’s room for these more pleasant cats too in literature?

CatClubMembersAverill proves there is, by basing her portrayal of Jenny on her own timid cat. In the lead story, Jenny watches the neighborhood cats socialize together in a club but flees in terror when two of them invite her to join the club. In the second story of the collection, Jenny finds herself sitting on an upturned basket and watching her friends rumba, because she can’t bring herself to ask anyone to teach her to dance. In a third story, Jenny’s scarf is stolen, and Jenny hesitates to say that she doesn’t want a new scarf or a toy. Rather, she just wants her red scarf returned that her Master had given her. With each new tale, Jenny becomes more confident and comfortable in her friendships. Yet she also always remains polite, mild-mannered, and considerate. That’s what I most appreciate about her.

The fact that Pickles, otherwise known as The Fire Cat, shows up as a character in Jenny and the Cat Club also drew me to the collection. I had first read Averill’s sympathetic story of this homeless cat as a child. Why The Fire Cat was one of the last I Can Read books that I relinquished, I don’t know. Perhaps it was one of my only storybooks about cats, in a library of animal books mostly about dogs. Maybe it was the fun color of Pickles, that of yellow with black spots. Or maybe it was that like Jenny, Pickles wanted to belong but struggled to because of his rough demeanor. At any rate, because Pickles is one of Jenny’s friends, I immediately wanted to like Jenny’s stories too.

Of course, the most obvious reason for my liking Jenny and the Cat Club is that it features five stories about cats. Ever since a stray cat named Lucy came into my life in 2006, I’ve developed a certain fondness for felines. I like to watch them, sit with them, hold them, and even read to them. Lucy died of kidney failure before I discovered Jenny and the Cat Club, but our new cat Cinder has heard all the tales. So has a feral cat that I temporarily fostered. They both approve of Jenny and the Cat Club, as I’m sure Lucy would have too.

JennyCatClub_DanceAfter all, what’s not to like about the simple and adventurous tales of Jenny Linksy, her benevolent master Captain Tinker, and her diverse assortment of friends? Some of Jenny’s friends are singers, some are dancers, some are sweethearts, some are fighters. All of them have their own quirks and stories. Of course, the most endearing is that of Jenny who can skate, find secret passages, brave wild dogs, and even share her home with two brothers.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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