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1. Cats Are Cats – Perfect Picture book Friday

Title: Cats Are Cats Written and illustrated by: Valeri Gorbachev Published By: Holiday House, 2014. Themes/Topics: cats, pets, tigers, fish Suitable for ages: 3-5 Opening:                                     … Continue reading

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2. Naughty Kitty!, by Adam Stower | Book Review

Adam Stower follows up his Silly Doggy! book with another winner, Naughty Kitty!

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3. SkADaMo 2014 Day5

meowl

MEOWLS AND DIRDS

Inspired by this and this.

I mean, just saying the words make me smile!

By the way, wondering what SkADaMo is? Check this out.


8 Comments on SkADaMo 2014 Day5, last added: 11/6/2014
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4. Marvel spotlights Superheroes as Cats

marvel cats4 625x943 Marvel spotlights Superheroes as Cats
Yesterday was National Cat Day and Marvel celebrated by showing casing these covers by Jenny Park, who specializing in painting famous pop culture characters as cats. How she isn’t a billionaire I don’t know.

Could this possibly be another variant month theme for Marvel? Makes sense doesn’t it.

National Cat DAy was celebrated pretty quietly here at Stately Beat Manor, except by Charlie who overdid it a little and yakked all over the litter mat. And THAT is truly why we celebrate National Cat Day.

marvel cats2 625x943 Marvel spotlights Superheroes as Cats

marvel cats3 Marvel spotlights Superheroes as Cats

marvel cats1 625x943 Marvel spotlights Superheroes as Cats

4 Comments on Marvel spotlights Superheroes as Cats, last added: 10/30/2014
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5. Here Comes Santa Cat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Here Comes Santa Cat Written by: Deborah Underwood Illustrated by: Claudia Rueda Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers, Oct 21st, 2014 Suitable for ages: 3-7 Themes: cats, being nice, Christmas, Santa Fiction, small format, 80 pages Opening Lines: … Continue reading

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6. Classic Picture Book: Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Classic Picture Book: Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts looks at Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric LitwinPete the Cat I Love My White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin
Picture book published by Harper Collins Children’s Books









Light, breezy, rhythmic and upbeat, Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes shares a message of resilience that will appeal to children and adults. Pete begins his day with bright, white new shoes. When he steps onto a pile of strawberries, his shoes turn red and, when he encounters blueberries, his shoes turn blue. Regardless of what poor Pete has to walk through, he maintains his happy outlook. Very popular with young children who enjoy learning and singing about colors, Pete also has a message for older children and adults:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

An excellent choice for young readers who will benefit from the repetitive and predictable text, Pete’s coolness is oh so groovy!

Harper Collins Publishers’ Pete the Cat downloads (including songs)

I Can Read Pete the Cat (free downloads)

School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books
2013 Morning Calm Award Medal, International Schools of South Korea
2013 Best Picture Book, Colorado Children’s Book Award
2013 Best Picture Book, North Carolina Children’s Book Award
2012 Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library – Ladybug Picture Book Award
2011 ReadKiddoRead award for Best Illustrated Books
2011 Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award
2010 25 Books All Young Georgians Should Read






Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes at Amazon.com

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes at Amazon.ca

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes on YouTube

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes Pinterest Board

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin on Pinterest.



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    7. Inktober Day 14: “Cat TV” #inktober #inktober2014

    Inktober 14

    Micron Brush Pen Black
    Graphite pencil

    #inktober #inktober2014
    ©2014 Loni Edwards Illustration. All Rights Reserved.

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    8. Whose muse mews?

    The final, quiet days of summer before the turning of the season and the chill of back-to-work autumn are a perfect time to slow down, turn off the electronics, and refresh the soul by reading poetry. On the other hand, what could be more fun than an internet quiz about cats?

    We sat down with Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, and fired up the search, looking for cats stalking the pages of literature. We found some lovely stuff, and something more – a literary reflection of the cat’s unstoppable gambol up the social ladder: a mouser and rat-catcher in the seventeenth century, he springs up the stairs in the eighteenth century to become the plaything of smart young ladies and companion of literary lions such as Cowper, Dr Johnson, and Horace Walpole.

    cat oseo

    Your Score:  

    Your Ranking:  

    Image credit: Cat with OSEO, © Oxford University Press. Do not re-use without permission.

    The post Whose muse mews? appeared first on OUPblog.

    0 Comments on Whose muse mews? as of 9/11/2014 5:20:00 AM
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    9. #650 – The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey by Gregory E. Bray & Holly J. Bray-Cook

    cover 2 mzzox

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    The “Tail” of a Boy Named Harvey

    Written by Gregory E. Bray
    Illustrated by Holly J. Bray-Cook
    Published by Gregory E. Bray         6/01/2013
    978-1-488271465-4
    Age 4 to 8              32 pages
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    “Harvey is always playing with his pets, but his pets don’t like the way he plays with them. When the tables have turned, will he enjoy the way he’s played with?”

    Opening

    “Harvey was an energetic boy. He loved playing sports.”

    The Story

    Harvey is a typical five-year-old. He is rambunctious, energetic, imaginative, and self-centered. Harvey loves playing with his pets: a dog and a cat (names not given). Being a young boy, he does not think of either pet’s feelings or consider how they might like to play. The pets are like large dolls that breathe. Harvey puts clothes on them, uses the cat as a basketball, and dresses both up in military garb when he wants to play army—sending the cat up into the air so it may return in a parachute. To say Harvey plays rough with his companions is a mild way of describing his actions. Harvey plays like a little boy plays, with energy and enthusiasm.

    The poor dog and cat are not happy and try to avoid Harvey at all costs. His parents cannot figure out why the pets react so adversely to their son, until the day mom catches Harvey ready to catch his parachuting kitty.

    “She sent him to his room after dinner and he was only allowed to come out for school and meals.”

    Harvey’s response to his punishment further shows he has no idea what he did to get into so much trouble.

    “Stupid pets!”  [Harvey said, while lying in bed.]

    Review

    spread1

    I really like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. Subconsciously, Harvey understood what he did was wrong. In his dream, he is the “pet” and the pets “own” him. The pets play with Harvey exactly as he played with them—thrown up in the air, dressed up, and abruptly awakened. Harvey hates this “playing.” The army games the pets play with Harvey terrify him enough to jolt him awake. Mom tells him it is only a dream, but Harvey has other thoughts on his mind,

    “I’m sorry guys. I didn’t know how bad I treated you. I promise to play nice with you for now on!”

    I like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey because animal abuse starts with that first inappropriate action. While most kids do not continue on abusing animals—and later extend the abuse to humans—the sooner they learn to respect their pets, the faster they will learn to respect other people and themselves. Harvey’s self-centeredness, typical for his age, opened up a notch with his revelation. I love that Harvey came to this realization mainly by himself, though he would have gotten there much slower had mom not punished him. This is a perfect example of how kids learn. The author’s inspiration for the book came in part from his son Liam and their cat Harvey. The author got it right.

    spread2

    Now, what I do not like about The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. I am not a fan of the 8 x 8 format mainly because little hands need the stronger pages of a traditional picture book format. A couple of pages came loose from the binding in my copy. The main problem with the story is the lack of action. The narrator tells us 90 percent or more of what is happening instead of letting the characters do this. The story would be more engaging had this happened. The reader would also be able to add to the story by adopting character voices and further charm their child. Please remember the key maxim: Show not Tell.

    The illustrations are good, not traditional looking picture book illustrations, but nicely done. The pets are great at showing their dislike through facial expressions, though my cat would have simply hissed or bit, then run away. When the pets do run away, their fast retreat is nicely illustrated. The illustrator made sure we understood Harvey’s point of view drastically changes when he becomes the pet. The dog and cat (wish they had names) are adorable. Nice job with the little details I love so much.

    spread3

    I think kids will like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. Young kids will appreciate the story and laugh at Harvey’s predicament. Those with pets will quickly learn from Harvey and that is a great thing to happen. Classrooms with a pet would do well to read this story, as would any child soon to get their first pet. The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey is the author’s, and the illustrator’s, first children’s book. They both did a nice job bringing the story of Harvey (the cat or the boy, I am no longer sure which) to life.

    THE TAIL OF A BOY NAMED HARVEY. Text copyright © 2013 by Gregory E. Bray. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Holly J. Bray-Cook. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gregory E. Bray, Sacramento, CA.

    For a young lad’s critique, click HERE

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    Purchase The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey at Amazon—B&N—CreateSpace—Gregory Bray—your favorite bookstore.

    Learn more about The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey HERE

    Meet the author, Gregory E. Bray, at his blog:   http://gregoryebrayauthor.blogspot.com/

    Meet the illustrator, Holly J. Bray-Cook, at her website:

    Gregory E. Bray published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

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    tail of a boy named harvey

    Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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    A Little about Gregory E. Bray

    gregory e bray authorx

    “Gregory E Bray (1967-present) was born and raised in Sacramento, CA where he still resides He was a film major in college who now works in the IT industry. He has written scripts for corporate videos and shorts and uses humor in everything he writes. He uses his humor in this, his first children’s book, to help get the books message out to children. His inspiration for writing this children’s book comes from his wife Lita, their son Liam and their cat Harvey.”

    How to Find Gregory E. Bray

    Website:

    Blog:   http://gregoryebrayauthor.blogspot.com/

    Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/gregoryebray

    Goodreads Author Page:   https://www.goodreads.com/geb1967

    Amazon Author’s Page:    amazon.com/author/gregorybray


    Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: be kind to pets, cats, children's book reviews, dogs, Gregory E. Bray, Holly J. Bray-Cook, imagination, pets, picture books, relationships, respect

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    10. “We are not amused”

    One day a black cat with white markings (bicolor), came to our house with his two gorgeous ladies, a calico …

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    11. “We are not amused”

    One day a black cat with white markings (bicolor), came to our house with his two gorgeous ladies, a calico …

    Continue reading

    0 Comments on “We are not amused” as of 8/5/2014 5:46:00 PM
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    12. Prototype

    Enter Wilhelmina. Older sister (by 2 yrs.) She likes to show off her reading skills. She dislikes her brother–very much.Filed …

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    0 Comments on Prototype as of 8/4/2014 1:22:00 AM
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    13. Berry Tart

    Its all done! Phew. I thought I'd never finish. Being sick is a drag (some kind of 'bug', requiring lots of naps and 'lie downs'). But I managed to pick at this in bits of being up and around and finally gone it done.


    The paper is 11 x 17. I used Polychromos, Pablos, and Prismacolor colored pencils, on Fabriano Artistico Hot Press paper.

    Not too much else to share. Its so #&* hot here, 100 or over for I've lost count how many days now. The cats have gone wild, insisting I keep the cat door open so they can roam around at night when it cools off. Charlie brought me a mouse, on the bed, at 3:00 am one night, which I did not appreciate. 

    Sigh. Cats. Summer. Maybe I should eat this tart - its still in the fridge. 
    Stay cool!

    0 Comments on Berry Tart as of 7/30/2014 11:58:00 PM
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    14. Doodle Day: A Proliferation of Peculiarly Painted Pets

    It's been incredibly busy around here lately - getting ready for some huge personal changes, and enjoying the company of visiting family and friends - so busy in fact that I missed posting something here on Saturday. ooops. Have barely had time to breathe never mind draw, so I dug around for something I did a couple of months back, just for fun.

    Here is my proliferation of peculiarly painted pets. Not sure whether to continue with these and turn them into a pattern or not ... what do you think?

     

    Peculiar-Pets-by-Floating-Lemons

     

    Have a pleasant day packed with potty peculiarities! Cheers.

     

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    15. Do you know Jenny Linsky?

    The School for Cats. Esther Averill. 1947/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

    The School for Cats was originally published in 1947. It is part of a larger series of books starring the (black) cat Jenny Linsky and her friends. The School of Cats is not the first in the series, but, it is the first in the series that my library actually had. In this "Jenny's Cat Club" book, readers meet Jenny as she leaves her home in Greenwich Village to attend school in the country. She is very, very, very unsure about the whole school thing. But her master, Captain Tinker, wants her "to study cat lore in the country." There is definitely something of an adventure in this one when Jenny runs away from school. But it also contains a lesson on friendship and adapting to new situations.

    I enjoyed this one. I look forward to reading others in the series.

    Jenny's Moonlight Adventure. Esther Averill. 1949/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

    Jenny's Moonlight Adventure was originally published in 1949. It is part of a larger series of books starring Jenny and her friends. I did not like this book as well as The School for Cats. It is a Halloween adventure. Jenny must prove how brave she is both for herself and for her friends. She reluctantly accepts a job that only she can do. She is to carry a nose flute to a sick friend (another cat, of course). The job is "dangerous" because it requires her to be brave and clever enough to get past several unfriendly neighborhood dogs.

    For readers who celebrate Halloween, this one might prove charming.

    Jenny Goes to Sea. Esther Averill. 1957/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 140 pages. [Source: Library]

    Of the Jenny Linsky books I've read so far, Jenny Goes to Sea is probably my favorite. In this chapter book originally published in 1957, Jenny Linsky and her two brothers, Edward and Checkers, travel the world with their owner, Captain Tinker. These three cats become very good friends with Jack Tar, the ship's cat. These three leave the ship in company with Jack Tar at many of the ports including Capetown, Zanzibar, Singapore, and Bangkok. Adventures come oh-so-naturally.

    I definitely recommend this series to cat lovers of all ages.

    Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories About Jenny Linsky. Esther Averill. 1973/2003. New York Review Children's Collection. 176 pages. [Source: Library]

    Jenny and the Cat Club features five stories by Esther Averill. These were originally published in 1944, 1948, 1951, 1952, and 1953. The stories are: "The Cat Club," "Jenny's First Party," "When Jenny Lost Her Scarf," "Jenny's Adopted Brothers," and "How the Brothers Joined the Cat Club."

    The Cat Club introduces readers to Jenny Linsky, a "shy little black cat" from New York City. Readers meet Jenny and her owner Captain Tinker. In this adventure, Jenny receives her signature red scarf, a present from her owner who happens to knit. This red scarf helps Jenny gain enough confidence to talk to other cats in the neighborhood. In this one, readers learn about the neighborhood cat club, they are briefly introduced to the other cats, and they learn that members of the cat club must be special.

    Jenny's First Party is a story focusing on Jenny and her friend Pickles (the fire cat) teaming up and strolling the neighborhood. Both are looking for fun, fun, fun. But neither have money. (What cat has money?!) They stumble upon a groovy party and a great time is had by all. Readers learn that Jenny can dance a happy little sailor's hornpipe dance.

    "When Jenny Loses Her Scarf" is about when Jenny's beloved red scarf was stolen by a dog. The dog, Rob the Robber, refuses to give it back. Jenny seeks help from Pickles the fire cat. Pickles is just the one to help her, it turns out, for justice is dealt out after all. The dog's hangout catches on fire! Pickles retrieves the scarf as he's putting out the fire.

    "Jenny's Adopted Brothers" is about when Jenny meets two stray cats: Checkers and Edward. Checkers, readers learn, retrieves things. Edward, we learn, is a poet. Jenny meets these two, feels sorry for them, and introduces them to Captain Tinker. When these two are adopted by the Captain, Jenny feels very jealous! Will having two other cats in the house prove too much?!

    "How The Brothers Joined the Cat Club" is obviously about when Edward and Checkers join the club. Jenny is hesitant to include her two new brothers at first. After all, she likes the idea that the club could remain her own little secret and her way to get away from them. But. Being the good little cat that she is, Jenny soon realizes that she could never really keep her brothers from missing out on the awesomeness of the cat club. She helps them discover their talents and introduces them to all her friends.

    I liked this one. I did. I like meeting Jenny and the other cats.

    The Hotel Cat. Esther Averill. 1969/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 180 pages. [Source: Library]

    The Hotel Cat is an enjoyable children's novel by Esther Averill. It was originally published in 1969.

    The Hotel Cat stars a cat named Tom. He lives at the Royal Hotel, an eight-story building in New York. It is on the older side. And the hotel isn't doing the best business. But all that happens to change during the novel. Tom who is used to having the place to himself, for the most part, at least in terms of CATS ON THE PLACE discovers that there are cats there with their owners. The first few cats he meets he is rude, very rude. But after Tom's owner, Mrs. Wilkins, talks to him, he decides to be more gracious and welcoming. It isn't long before he meets three cats: Jenny, Edward, and Checkers. And those aren't the only cats from the cat club he happens to meet. A difficult winter has resulted in a lot of broken boilers and frustrated cat-owning homeowners are staying at the Royal Hotel. How convenient!

    Tom learns a lot about making and keeping friends in The Hotel Cat.

    I liked this one.

    Captains of the City Streets. Esther Averill. 1972/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 164 pages. [Source: Library]

    Captains of the City Streets is a children's novel by Esther Averill originally published in 1972. Two cats star in Captains of the City Street. In this one, the author provides the back story for two cats who have been a part of essentially the whole series. Sinbad and The Duke. These two stray cats are best buddies. They haven't been "owned" by a human in what seems like a very long time by cat reckoning. They are street cats, traveling cats, going from city to city to city, seeing all there is to see, always seeking handouts, but never becoming dependent on any one human. The two travel to "old New York." They are looking for a place of their own, a safe place to stay. They find it. They also find one old man who dependably gives them food day after day on their own terms. He comes and goes leaving the food, never trying to approach the cats, never pushing a relationship. The two cats slowly but surely decide that maybe just maybe humans aren't all that bad. That is when they stumble upon the Cat Club. They learn that the kind human is Captain Tinker. The first cat they befriend is Macaroni. The two are invited to join the Cat Club, but, are hesitant. Do they want to stick around that long? Do they want the responsibility?

    I liked meeting Sinbad and Duke. The stories that focus on Jenny certainly mention these two quite a bit, but, this is the first time that readers really learn about these two in detail. It is a fun book.

    Jenny's Birthday Book. Esther Averill. 1954/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

    Jenny's Birthday Book by Esther Averill was originally published in 1954. In this cat club book, Jenny Linsky, our star cat, our shy little black cat with the red scarf, has a special birthday with all of her friends whom we've met through the series. Pickles. Sinbad and The Duke. Florio. To name just a few. It is a lovely birthday. The book itself is sweet, simple, and charming. Especially if you like cats and vintage picture books. I think my favorite illustration is of all the cats dancing the Sailor's Hornpipe in the park.

    The Fire Cat. Esther Averill. 1960/1983. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Own]

    I enjoyed revisiting The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. I read this one many times as a child. But I had no idea it was part of a larger series of books, the Cat Club series by Esther Averill. The Fire Cat does not star Jenny Linsky. It stars Pickles. Pickles has been a delightful character in almost all of the other books in the series. He is probably one of Jenny's best best friends. In the Fire Cat, readers learn more about Pickles. Was he always a fire cat? Of course not! There was a time he was a hopeless cat that was a little bit bad and a little bit good. One of the firemen takes an interest in him and takes him to the fire station. He is hoping that the chief will allow Pickles to stay. Pickles most definitely wants to stay. He wants to prove himself worthy, so he decides to learn by example. He learns to slide down the pole, for example, he learns how to work a hose. The fire chief is definitely charmed, I imagine cat-loving readers are just as charmed. I certainly was! The Fire Cat is a feel-good read. Readers see Pickles transform from a slightly-naughty homeless cat to a brave and dutiful fire cat. He learns responsibility and compassion. Overall, it's just a good story.


    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Do you know Jenny Linsky? as of 7/6/2014 10:14:00 AM
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    16. Copycat and a Litter of Other Cats

    Copycat
    Author & Illustrator: David Yow
    Publisher: Akashic Books
    Genre: Humor / Cats
    ISBN: 978-1-61775-270-4
    Pages: 160
    Price: $23.95

    Author’s website
    Buy it at Amazon

    The letters “C-A-T” form parts of dozens of words in the English language. Using this as his premise, David Yow has combined his love of both cats and puns in Copycat and a Litter of Other Cats. This unique book shares a cat-inspired phrase with Yow’s drawings of cats in situations representing the pun.

    Grumpy Cat, Felix the Cat, Top Cat and Sylvester the Cat make guest appearances, joining Alley Cat, Tomcat, and Bobcat in this parade of bright-eyed cats. Copycat is a fun and whimsical book that any cat lover will enjoy.

    Reviewer: Alice Berger


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    17. That Cat who came in off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt

    Mr Tibbles – a shy reporter on the local newspaper – has been threatened with the sack. It’s perhaps no surprise: Mr Tibbles is mad about cats, and all his stories end up revolving around felines one way or another. What his editor wants, however, is news!

    Photo: Sarah

    Photo: Sarah

    An act of kindness brings Mr Tibbles into contact with Minoe, a rather strange young woman who appears to be able to talk to cats. Through the town’s network of feline pets and strays Minoe starts starts to deliver interesting titbits of exclusive news to Mr Tibbles; cats across the city overhear all sorts of conversations often revealing juicy gossip and insider information, and when Minoe learns of these pieces of news from kitty comrades, she passes them on to her friend the reporter.

    Mr Tibble’s job is looking up until he uncovers information which could lead to the downfall of a local powerful businessman. Will the reporter be brave enough to expose the evil goings on? Will he be believed, when his only witnesses are pussy cats?

    Copy_of_Cover_Cat_who_came_in_off_the_RoofA funny and yet quietly profound tale of courage, friendship and what it really means to be human, The Cat Who Came in off the Roof, by Annie M. G. Schmidt, translated by David Colmer is a gem of a story. Ideal for fans of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, or cross-species tales of identity such as Stellaluna or Croc and Bird, this book would make an especially good class read-aloud, with lots of opportunities to discuss what life looks like from different perspectives, helping readers and listeners walk in another’s shoes, as well as perhaps learning a thing or to about overcoming shyness, and how to stand up for what you believe in.

    From the mangy, feisty stray cat who you end up rooting for, to the hilarious school cat with a penchant for history lessons and a slight;y different (some might say out-dated) understanding of the term ‘news’, Schmidt has populated her story with a super array of characters. The narrative beautifully unfolds with unseen and fine tuning, climaxing with an exciting and rich ending which is deeply satisfying even though not everything is tied up neatly and not all strands end happily. Despite plenty of kittens and purring, this book never patronises its readership.

    Knowing the original Dutch language version as we do as a family, I can also comment on the gorgeous translation. Colmer has wittily and cleverly translated linguistic and cultural jokes. His phrase ‘miaow-wow’ for when the cats meet up for a big parley is genius and has now entered our family parlance. If I nitpick I might personally have chosen -thorpe rather than -thorn for the Dutch -doorn, when translating the town’s name but I feel mean mentioning this as Colmer’s voice is pitch-perfect; at no point will you notice the text as a translation for it reads authentically and smoothly.

    This must-read book will make you laugh out loud (whether you are a dog person or a cat fan). It will make you feel like for a brief moment you’ve witnessed and understood the best of humanity. It may also make you rather nervous next time you find a cat sitting ever so quietly next to you whilst you are having a private conversation!

    I do so hope Pushkin Press are now thinking about translating Schmidt’s earlier work, Ibbeltje, which shares many characteristics with The Cat Who Came in off the Roof and has the added advantage of brilliant illustrations by another glittering star in the Dutch children’s literature firmament: Fiep Westendorp.

    For reasons which will become clear upon reading this charming and magical book Minoe not only can speak the language of cats, she is also known to climb trees when dogs approach. It took about a nanosecond for M to decide she wanted to play-by-this-particular-book by climbing as many different trees as she could one afternoon at the weekend. So, armed with a local map (printed from http://www.openstreetmap.org/) we set off to map all the local trees good for climbing in.

    tree1

    Each tree we climbed we identified (it seems that around us oaks, ash and willow are the best climbing trees).

    tree2

    We remembered the last time we deliberately climbed trees in order to read on location.

    tree3

    Getting out and climbing a tree? Reading a truly terrific book? What more could you ask for as a lovely way to while a way a few hours!

    Whilst climbing we weren’t listening to music, but these tracks could go with reading The Cat Who Came in off the Roof:

  • This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof by Brian Setzer
  • Everybody Wants to be a Cat from The Aristocats film
  • The Cat theme from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf

  • Other activities which you might be inspired to try alongside reading The Cat Who Came in off the Roof include:

  • Reading more books in more trees. The very first I’d have to recommend are the Toby books by Timothee de Fombelle, about an entire world of miniature people having giant adventures in an oak tree.
  • Walking around your neighbourhood and greeting the cats you come across. Could you create a backstory for each one? What are they called? What do they get up to when you’re not there?
  • Writing a family newspaper. This is potentially a super project for the summer holidays – and you can get some great tips and downloadables to get you going from this post over on Playful Learning.
  • When did you last climb a tree? What secrets might your cat be able to tell me ;-) ?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Cat who Came in off the Roof from the publisher.

    And briefly…. thank you with all my heart to all of you who commented on my last post, or got in touch via email, phone, snail mail and more. Life goes on and plots are being hatched and plans being laid. As and when I can reveal more I’ll be sure to let you know the latest.

    3 Comments on That Cat who came in off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt, last added: 6/29/2014
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    18. The Great Search & Rescue

    Our cat went missing. Not the new cat, the old cat. She’s a good yet reclusive pet. It took us weeks to integrate the two of them and I’m not just gonna let her go. Besides, can a family of six be complete unless they have at least four pets? Seriously, why would we ever have ten beings who consume and eliminate food living under one roof? Someone should have said no to this ridiculous increase long ago! Don’t ask me who – someone with more backbone than me.

    We noticed she was gone Thursday. She has hidden for extended periods of time before, but after a thorough search of the premises, we realized she was not indoors. Thus began our search and rescue.

    We started by walking up and down the street calling out her name. Wait, we would have started by doing that, but we never really have given her a name. So we just called Kitty and clicked a lot, completely ignoring the fact that she has never so much as inclined her head toward us when called…or clicked at. The only thing that came at our beckoning was our neighbor’s horse. I sized him up to see if he would be an adequate replacement, but he was completely the wrong color and I worried a little about the size of my litter box.

    After the sun set, I posted two guards at the back door and commenced the stake out. The Commandant (me) made his rounds for inspection only to find the two teenage guards sleeping. It seems the batteries to their electronic devices had run out, leaving them nothing to do. I was about to rip into them like a monkey on a cupcake until I saw an eerie set of eyes through the window. The cat!

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    Assuming the cat wanted back in, we all rushed the scene noisily with search lights blazing and promptly scared the crap out of her. She ran away from us and we didn’t see her again that night.

    Night #2. I set one guard along with her charger (fool me once) and went to bed. Around 1 am, I was roused and told the cat was back. Using a calmer approach, we slowly walked in her direction and sat down. She recognized us and without the high-beam flashlight blinding her out of her mind, allowed herself to be captured.

    Once she realized she was safely inside her familiar home, she laid down in her usual spot and promptly slept for two days. The thrill of it all left me staring at the ceiling for an hour, pondering several things.

    1. Does she care about us in more than a “feed me, then subject to me” way?

    2. Did she really want to be caught?

    3. What made us think that a cat who has never been outside could recognize the exterior of her home?

    4. In case of a dystopian apocalypse, I need to trade in my teenagers on someone who will actually guard something sans electronics.

    5. Why would anyone name a cat? One might as well name a roll of tape for all the attention paid to it.

    Before drifting off to sleep, I recall having the strange sensation that I was being watched by the cat. I would like to think she was pondering her adoration of me, her rescuer. But I am fairly certain that after two days in the wild, the hungry feline was sizing me up for a snack.

     

    Photo attribution:  Patrick Feller (Flickr)


    Filed under: Dad stuff

    5 Comments on The Great Search & Rescue, last added: 6/19/2014
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    19. Odie the Stray Kitten, by Kristen Mott | Dedicated Review

    Through the sincere and straightforward storytelling of Odie and the Stray Kitten, Author Kristen Mott shares a lovely message of just how meaningful showing kindness toward animals can be.

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    20. Interview with David Cunningham, Author of “The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way”

    The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way is David's s big debut. Ten years ago, David faced personal adversity and started to write-what evolved was a a story he penned to explain to his children the courage one needs to overcome fear, pain and loss. The epigraph for the book-"The healing in worth the pain" is the theme the weaves through this tale.

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    21. The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, by David Cunningham | Dedicated Review

    In The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, David Cunningham has weaved an intriguing character-driven story that induces thought-provoking moments based on hope, faith and perseverance.

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    22. Perhaps an idea whose time has come: how much is a play page worth?

    I dunno - some people come up with the strangest ideas to make money. In this case, an Australian man is selling the word "the" - that's the three letters t-h-e - on e-Bay and would you believe that someone out there on planet earth, has bid $10,131 to own it.

    At first I dismissed the idea as ridiculous. I mean, who would buy a word given the amount of words available to use at no charge in the English language alone. Then lights accompanied by bells and whistles along with a "hello Eleanor!" started going off in my brain.

    As a playwright who is continually submitting my plays to various theatres in the hope of production, this idea possibly could work for me. Instead of one word, I would put a page from one of my plays on e-Bay or write a one-page play based on suggestions from bidders, and wait for the bids to roll in. Depending on the response, perhaps I'd even consider offering more than one page.

    The seller, one "sweatyman" (not the best choice of user-names IMHO but then who am I) writes in his e-Bay description of the word "the":  "Ideal for any situation, this fun-loving item fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, wallet, or purse."

    Should I decide to pursue my idea, the creation of an enticing blurb would be necessary to get the bidding going. Something to the effect:

    "A playwright who has penned many a play, would like to share the witty wordage of  a one page play  to be written by a. playwright. The contents of the page will be written based on the idea submitted by the winning bidder. Be a hit at parties and let your guests be actors."

    Testimonials by satisfied customers could be used to underline this novel idea. Something to the effect:

    "I bought a one-page play based on the word, 'divorce' and acted it out in front of my ex-wife/husband/whoever. Boy - were they surprised!"

    or

    "I just want to thank a. playwright for the opportunity to bid on my one-page play, "cats." The one page play which featured my cats, Fluffy, Tiger and Buster, who did what cats usually do, which is nothing. It was a great afternoon."

    All that's left to do is to decide how much to open the bidding at. A dollar seems like a fair price for a page of witty and entertaining dialogue. This could be the start of something big. Then again, maybe not.

    0 Comments on Perhaps an idea whose time has come: how much is a play page worth? as of 5/28/2014 7:57:00 PM
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    23. International Cats!

    Good News Everyone!
    My Cat books have been co-editioned in a few more countries... look at that! Even my native Germany, at last. My parents will be delighted.

    Yep, this one is out soon....

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    24. Digital Illustration: Girl with Cherries

    Girll-with-Cherries-by-Floating-Lemons

     

    I've always wanted to try out drawing with pastels but managed to avoid that for years as I just didn't want to have to clean up the mess that they inevitably create. So hey, I decided to 'cheat' a bit when I discovered some reallly cool digital pastel brushes by Kyle whose watercolour brushes I've recently been experimenting with as well. He has a wonderful collection, check it out here.

    I scanned in the drawing that I'd done of the girl with cherries, two dogs and two cats, and had a great time painting it in, on photoshop. As it's springtime and my previous icon or avatar or whatchamacallit was now out of season being that she was wrapped up in hat and scarves, this seemed perfect to replace it, don't you think?

    Wishing you a delightful week. Cheers.

     

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    25. Max the Brave by Ed Vere. Warning: this post really does contain cute kittens

    Image: Paul Reynolds

    Image: Paul Reynolds

    Image: DomiKetu

    Image: DomiKetu

    Image: Merlijn Hoek

    Image: Merlijn Hoek

    Kittens and Cute. They go together like purple and prickles, tigers and teatime, picnics and lashings of ginger beer.

    maxthebraveAnd in Max the Brave by Ed Vere (@ed_vere) we meet another very cute kitten. He’s small, and black and has big bright eyes.

    But even though every reader who picks up this book will definitely find Max adorable and charming, Max himself definitely does not want to be called cute. He wants to be big, grown up and brave. And to prove his mettle he’s going to hunt down his nemesis… a mouse.

    But therein lies a problem. Max does not know what a mouse looks like.

    The kitten’s not-knowing-any-better does indeed result in displays of exuberant courage and kids every where will identify with Max’s desire to be be hailed a hero, his refusal to lose face and the simple joy and playfulness of the chase to say nothing of the everyday challenges which arise from simply having to learn how the world works and what it made up of.

    This book is an example of storytelling – in both words and pictures – whittled down to the very purest. With only a word or two on many pages, plain typesetting, apparently simple, unadorned illustrations (where much of the impact comes from the page colour and large empty spaces rather than highly detailed or vast drawings). In its bareness there is a direct line to the story, the humour, the characters. There’s nowhere for this story to hide, no embellishments, no fancy details, and this clarity gives the storytelling a freshness that is bold and very exciting.

    Restraint may be present in Vere’s brushstrokes (he captures moments of determination, puzzlement, fear poetically and precisely – just take a close look at Max’s eyes on each page to get a sense of what I mean), but this is vividly contrasted with an exuberant use of colour to fill the pages. From Meg and Mog to several fabulous books by Tim Hopgood and one of my most recent reviews, The Cake, there’s a great tradition in picture books of banishing white pages and using glorious swathes of intense colour to the very edge of the pages. One could do some fascinating research into background page colour and emotions at any given point in the story; here, for example, the pages are red when Max is annoyed, and blue with things are quieting down and Max is feeling soothed.

    Readers and listeners to Max the Brave may hear echoes of the Gruffalo’s Child with its themes of bravery and danger as a result of not knowing what something looks like, but perhaps more satisfying will be the recognition of characters (or at least their close relatives) from other books by Vere. Is that Fingers McGraw being sneaky once again? Could that be the monster from Bedtime for Monsters making a guest appearance? And indeed, is Max related somehow to the Bungles in Too Noisy? How lovely to be able to imagine these characters having such an real, independent life that they can walk out of one book and into another.

    Packed with so much laughter and sweet appeal this book will prove a hit with many, many families. It’s certainly one we’ve taken to our heart – so much so that the kids wanted to make their own Max and retell his story in their own inimitable style.

    First J sewed a black kitty out of felt, with pipe cleaners for arms, legs (and one stuffed in Max’s tale so it could be posed.

    makingmax1

    makingmax2

    M (pen name: Quenelda the Brave) then used our new Max to create montages for each page in Ed Vere’s gorgeous book. She modelled her scenes quite precisely, took a photo, and then (as a veteran of adding moustaches and more to photos in the newspaper) edited her photos in a graphics editor to add her own sprinkling of magic.

    maxblog1

    Here are a couple of pages showing Ed’s original work (reproduced with permission) and the corresponding scene M created:

    maxinterior1

    “This is Max. Doesn’t he look sweet!”

    maxblog2

    “Max looks so sweet that sometimes people dress him up in ribbons.”

    maxinterior2

    “Max does not like being dressed up in ribbons.

    Because Max is a fearless kitten.
    Max is a brave kitten.
    Miax is a kitten who chases mice.”

    maxblog4

    Here are a couple more spreads created by M (with guest appearances by Elmer as the elephant in Vere’s book, and a Wild Thing who is mistaken for a mouse.)

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    M had enormous fun (and showed a lot of dedication!) with this – she’s recreated the entire book out of her love for Max. I wonder what Max will get you and your kids doing…

    Here’s some of the music we listened to whilst making Max and our fan-fiction:

  • Kitty Fight Song by Joe McDermott. WARNING: this video contains lots of very cute kittens….
  • Monsters, Inc. by Randy Newman
  • Another theme tune – this time to the 1958 film Mighty Mouse

  • Other activities which would go well alongside reading Max the Brave include:

  • Dressing each other up in ribbons and super hero capes. Make Mum look silly by tying bows all over here! Make the kids look invincible by making capes for them (here’s a selection of tutorials)
  • Reading Max the Brave to a cat. Several ‘Kids Read to Animal’ programmes now exist around the word; these reading programmes are believed to help kids learn to read presumably by making the whole experience enjoyable and building the kids’ confidence. Here’s a newspaper article from earlier this year if you want to find out more.
  • Learning about sneezing: There is a terrific (in all sorts of senses) sneeze in Max the Brave. This video found on one of our favourite websites, The Kid Should See This, is beautiful and revolting, fascinating and mathematically amazing all at the same time!
  • What’s the cutest book you’ve read recently?

    Disclosure: I received a free, review copy of Max the Brave from the publisher.

    Image: Marine del Castell

    Image: Marine del Castell

    1 Comments on Max the Brave by Ed Vere. Warning: this post really does contain cute kittens, last added: 6/15/2014
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