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Cats are among some of the most popular pets in the world, and they’ve been so for thousands of years. In fact, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube. In appreciation of our feline friends for World Cat Day on 8 August, we’ve put together a list of 12 little-known cat facts.Add a Comment
When I was a child, I always had cats. They seemed very fond of me. Then, after I became Pharaoh, they didn't seem to care for me half as much.
Jason thought for a while. "I don't know," he said at last. "Did you wear that headdress and that beard before you got to be king? That might have frightened them. And another thing," he added, "did you shout as much? Cats don't like being shouted at."
Neter-Khet brightened a little. "That might be it."
"Even so," Jason said, "when you weren't shouting, you'd think they'd have come around again."
"Oh, they did," said Neter-Khet. "But they'd never play or purr when I ordered."
"Did you expect them to?" Jason said. "No cat in the world will do that!"
"But I'm Pharaoh," Neter-Khet said. "I'm supposed to give orders."
"That doesn't mean anything to a cat," said Jason. "Didn't anybody ever tell you?"
"Nobody tells me," Neter-Khet said. "I tell them. Besides, they were my cats, weren't they?"
"In a way they were," Jason said, "and in a way they weren't. A cat can belong to you, but you can't own him. There's a difference." (19-20)
The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time. (125)
Cats are good at being cats, and that's enough. (127)
There’s no doubt about it, going to school for the very first time can be nerve-wracking. It is no wonder that Splat is wide awake bright and early.
When mom opens his bedroom door, his first instinct is to pull the covers over his head. When that doesn’t work, Splat tries all sorts of tactics to delay leaving for school. He can’t find socks and his hair is a mess. One thing he knows for sure, having a friend in his lunchbox is certain to help. Splat pops Seymour the Mouse into his lunchbox and sets out to meet his new teacher and classmates.
Mrs. Wimpydimple and Splat’s new classmates are very welcoming and soon Splat is full of questions. He is especially curious to know why cats chase mice! (A definite opportunity to introduce the concept of foreshadowing) When it is finally lunchtime, Splat opens his lunchbox and his small rodent friend, Seymour is suddenly the centre of attention – and not in a good way. Splat’s new classmates do exactly what readers will predict – the chase is on!
Engaging, playful illustrations provide many details for young children to notice and enjoy. A mostly grey and black color palette is highlighted with vibrant yellow and red details that pop off the page. Those who are able to read will love the signs in the storefront windows and Mrs. Wimpydimple’s blackboard illustrations.
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Yep, it’s that time of year. Comic-Con is coming! I haven’t been delving into all the specifics yet but as in year’s past there will be a ton of offsites, and this year, a NEW one involving kitty cats. Last night I noted that there’s a cat cafe on Island near the Horton Grand, and […]Add a Comment
Findus goes Fishing by Sven Nordqvist, translated by Nathan Large is a book for anyone who’s ever got out of bed the wrong side and felt like nothing at all could improve their day, and also for all those who’ve spent time with someone they love who’s under a dark cloud. It’s a story of patience, love, empathy and one crazy cat.
It’s a gloomy autumn day and old farmer Pettson is down in the dumps. He doesn’t feel like doing any of the jobs he knows he needs to do. He’s blue and stuck in a funk. But his loyal and very dear friend, a kittenish cat called Findus is full of beans and just wants to play. Pettson is having none of it and snaps. “I AM IN A BAD MOOD AND I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE!”
How can you bring a little happiness back to someone who is feeling unhappy and depressed? What can you do to bring them a small ray of sunshine when all they have above their heads is a dark cloud? Findus may want to have some fun, but he also really wants to make his good friend feel better and so with a little bit of patience, a lot of thoughtfulness and – because Findus is a bit of a rascal – a dash of mischief, Findus cleverly finds a way to help Pettson back on to his feet.
It’s not sugar coated. It’s not all sweetness and light. There is grunting and gloom aplenty. But there’s also a cat with a very big heart who’s not afraid of persevering even when he’s told to scram. Findus helps us all to find a bit of loyalty and kindness in the face of rejection.
This hugely reassuring story is a relatively quiet affair (certainly by the madcap standards of earlier Findus and Pettson escapades), with muted illustrations in browns and greys perfectly matching the moody atmosphere. But Findus goes Fishing is far from downbeat. There are still many moments to spark giggles (all I’ll say is: Who hasn’t known a child who loves to rock chairs onto their back legs?), and the detailed, rich illustrations are a full of cameos worthy of a spotlight on their own.
I’m a strong contender for the the UK’s No. 1 Findus and Pettson fan, such is my love for these characters and the stories Sven Nordqvist writes. Findus goes Fishing is yet another wonderfully enjoyable, funny-yet-not-afraid-of-being-serious story really all about that most important of things: love and how we share it.
To celebrate the publication next week of Findus goes Fishing I interviewed the book’s UK English translator, Nathan Large and started by asking him a little about his background and how he became a translator. “I come from Gloucestershire and live in Stockholm, the home town of my partner, Emilie. I started translating while working as a linguist on a project developing machine translation tools. At first this was for research reasons, to explore patterns that our software could use. But gradually the translating branched out and found a life of its own.”
Having briefly worked as a translator myself many years ago I wondered what Nathan found particularly enjoyable about the work and his reply really resonated with me. “If you love language for its own sake, there’s always something to discover or enjoy in the work. If you are a curious person, translation also gives you the excuse to read about all sorts of subjects, making you among other things (un)popular at pub quizzes. Generally speaking, it is no bad thing to help people share their stories across languages.” I couldn’t agree more and this is certainly one of the reason’s I’m so grateful to translators, and publishing houses who seek out books in translation.
So how do the nuts and bolts of translation fit together for Nathan? Where does he begin? “It depends. Sven Nordqvist’s stories are pure fun. I read the book, then translate it the old-fashioned way, page by page. I check the draft against the original to see if I’ve missed anything, then put the Swedish to one side and focus on the English. Reading aloud is the best way to do this — the tongue trips over what the eye ignores.” This idea of reading aloud is really interesting – I’ve heard many authors use exactly the same technique, especially with picture book texts, and perhaps this shared approach is no surprise, as translators really are authors in disguise; translators, particularly literary translators, have to be great writers in their own language before sensitivity to a second language can come in to it.
Looking at the Findus and Pettson stories in particular, I love how they are universal – about deep friendship and kindness – but without losing their particular Swedish identity. What is it, however, that Nathan enjoys about these stories? “I like the interplay between words and images, but most of all I like the friendship between the two characters. This comes out particularly well in the latest book, which of course isn’t really about fishing at all but about Findus trying to get Pettson out from under his cloud.
Hawthorn Press wants to stay close to Nordqvist’s voice and the Swedish setting is largely left intact, lutefisk and all. However, observant readers may notice that Pettson and Findus drink tea in one of the books, I won’t say which one. Naturally it should have been coffee.” At this point I rush off to gather all my Findus and Pettson stories to track down the missing coffee… It’s amazing how big a smile this puts on my face.
So occasionally there might be textual changes, and this leads me to wondering about changes made in the illustrations. At the moment I’m working with a colleague on a close comparison of a French book, which has been translated quite differently into US and UK Englishes. That different words are chosen (in essentially the same language) is interesting, but what has really startled us is that some of the illustrations have been significantly altered. I’m delighted to hear that this doesn’t happen with with Findus and Pettson stories, other than occasionally translating text that appears as part of a picture.
Our experience with the French book makes me curious about other translations of the Findus and Pettson stories. Hawthorn Press (the UK publishers of Findus and Pettson) has a policy of letting the Swedish character shine threw their texts, but this isn’t the case with all versions of these stories. “It can be interesting to see what other people do with the same source material. The older US versions take quite a different approach, changing all the names and omitting much of the text. Hawthorn’s editions of Findus and the Fox and Pancakes for Findus are actually slightly edited Gecko translations, so there’s some continuity there.”
Ah! Changing names! This is a pet-hate of mine in translated stories, even if in theory I can understand the rationale that sometimes lies behind it (I can see why lovely – but typographically terrifying looking – Nijntje became Miffy for example) but why Findus and Pettson were renamed Mercury and Festus in the US I’d love to know. As to cutting the text, shortening the story, I wonder if this has something to do with different cultural expectations about illustrated books. Those who know different markets would probably agree with Charlotte Berry from the University of Edinburgh that “picture books on the continent tend to be aimed at older children than is generally accepted in the UK and the US and often contain a much higher proportion of text to image” and certainly Findus and Pettson do stand out here in the UK for looking like picture books in size and richness of illustration, but having the length of text at least sometimes associated with fiction for younger readers.
The idea about helping people share their stories across languages and cultures is still swirling in my head, so I can’t resist asking Nathan about Swedish children’s books which haven’t yet been translated into English but which he thinks would bring joy and delight to new readers. “Barbro Lindgren’s books about Loranga, Masarin och Dartanjang: a young boy, his gleefully irresponsible father and a grandfather who lives in the woodshed. First published in 1969-70, the stories are based — give or take the occasional bed-eating giraffe — on Lindgren’s own experiences raising her young family. They are quite unlike anything I have read before. English readers might recognize in Loranga the very opposite of the helicopter parent. With their surreal humour, the books are perfect for reading aloud — to children and grown-ups alike.”
I love the sound of these stories… let’s hope a publisher is listening and gives Nathan a call!
My thanks go to Nathan for giving us an insight into how he works, and most especially for bringing us Sven Nordqvist’s brilliant, delightful, heartwarming big hugs which look like books, filled with Findus and Pettson stories. All power to translators and the publishing houses who support them!
If you’d like to find out about other Findus and Pettson stories here are all my reviews:
Pancakes for Findus and When Findus was Little and Disappeared
Findus and the fox
Findus at Christmas
Findus Moves Out
Findus Plants Meatballs
Findus, Food and Fun – Seasonal crafts and nature activities
"Morning came, and there it was, fast fading and fierce, the King of All Yellows, blooming in the sidewalk crack in spite of the shadows. Swatch was ready .... At last, Yellowest Yellow would be hers."Or would it?
"Love is the mystery of water and a star." –Pablo Neruda
April is National Poetry Month. Below is a new piece of art inspired by this
snippet of a poem, step-by-step, working backwards. Enjoy!
|After much fussing over details... the final art!|
|Building up the color.|
|Another view from the drawing table.|
|First pencil layer.|
|Rough color thoughts and a few tweaks on a printout of the sketch.|
|The original pencil sketch.|
|Sketchbook thumbnails. (No wonder I can't read my own handwriting!)|
Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty is everyone’s favorite mischievous feline. Recently, the series creator and Bad Kitty herself were interviewed by Rocco Staino on StoryMakers. The Bad Kitty series is a favorite of early readers and those who’ve been introduced to chapter books. Bruel discusses the evolution of the Bad Kitty series — from picture books to chapter books; his inspiration for going against the sometimes syrupy sweet kid lit grain; and how Bad Kitty went from page to stage. Nick Bruel has appeared in the Princeton Book Festival and Carle Honors episodes of StoryMakers.
Watch KidLit TV’s Bad Kitty short, here.
We’re giving away three (3) copies of Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet and a MerryMakers Bad Kitty backpack pull. The giveaway ends at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2016. Enter now!
Click the images or links below to access fun activities with characters from Nick Bruel’s books!
Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet
Written and illustrated by Nick Bruel
Published by Roaring Brook Press
When Kitty is happy and healthy, everything is perfect. She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep slobbering puppies in their place. But when she’s sick, all she can do is lie in her bed. Looks like it’s time for this sick kitty to go…to the vet. When Kitty’s family finally manages to get their clawing, angry pet into the doctor’s office, it’s a wild adventure for Kitty, who has to get the most dreaded thing of all…a shot. Once the shot is administered, Kitty is cast into an ingenious dream within a dream sequence in which she has to make right by Puppy or risk being shut out of PussyCat heaven forever. This ninth installment of the popular Bad Kitty series from Nick Bruel is chock-full of brilliant supporting characters and, of course, the crankiest bad kitty you’ve ever seen.
Nick Bruel is the author and illustrator of New York Times bestseller Boing! and the Bad Kitty books, among others. He is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, and during his down time, he collects PEZ dispensers and grows tomatoes in the backyard. He lives in Tarrytown, NY with his wife Carina and their lovely cat Esmerelda.
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Utterly bonkers and enormously fun for all that, full of wackiness, crazy inventions, tight corners and one seriously big (and invisible) problem to solve, The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin (@PaulTobin) with illustrations by Thierry Lafontaine (@ThierryArt) has had me and my eleven year old giggling with delight.
It’s a madcap tale of one bright Nate Bannister, who – rather admirably – makes a conscious effort to keep his life interesting; every Friday the 13th he chooses to do three things which are either a challenge or likely to bring some adventure. This year this includes creating an enormous, invisible cat who does indeed make life rather more exciting… by going on the rampage.
Fortunately Nate has a loyal friend (indeed, his only friend), Delphine, and together they try all sorts of things to stop the crazy cat from destroying their neighbourhood. Inventions galore and smart thinking abound, but it’s not at all straight forward, because the Red Death Tea Society (ominous baddies of the most evil variety, who just happen to have astonishing tea brewing skills) are set on preventing Nate and Delphine from saving the day.
This riotous book, ideal for 9-12s, celebrates being a little bit different and being curious and clever. Brilliantly, it does this with a great dose of silliness and laughter, so it always feels exhilarating and never sanctimonious. Pacey, eccentric, highly imaginative and with characters and a story line likely to appeal to both boys and girls, I’d suggest How to Capture an Invisible Cat to anyone who loves off-the-wall adventure and thinking outside the box.
There’s something very mysterious about the Red Death Tea Society and so we couldn’t resist having a go at making up some tea they might enjoy. We gathered our tea making ingredients; a mixture of warm spices (cinammon, cardomum, cloves, star anise), fresh herbs (rosemary, sage mint), citrus zest (lemon and orange) and sugar lumps, plus small muslin squares to make the teabags (alternatively you could make teabags out of coffee filters using these instructions, or be inspired by this tea bag themed pinterest board).
Deciding on tea flavours was a bit like mixing up magic potions.
Once the flavours were carefully selected, the muslin squares (about 12cm long on each side) were tied up with red thread, and a tea bag label was stapled onto the thread (using a knot to hold it in place).
M designed the logo for the teabags, but if you’d like to use them you can download them here (pdf).
Once all our teabags were ready, we made boxes for them:
(Again, if you’d like to re-use the logo, here it is in a large size, idea for using on boxes.)
We filled some our boxes up (you’d better watch out, in case you find one on your doorstep!)…
But we also had to brew some tea for ourselves:
And of course, a cup of tea without a biscuit is no good, so we made some invisible cat cookies.
Yes, you may be able to see them, but this is only because they contain that magical invisible cat de-cloaking device (spoiler alert): peanut butter. (Here’s the recipe we used.)
Whilst making tea and eating peanut butter cat biscuits we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading How to Capture an Invisible Cat include:
If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:
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Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher and this post is the final part of a blog tour that’s been travelling around the world:
Monday, March 21 — Daddy Mojo (US)
Tuesday, March 22 — Nerdy Book Club (US)
Wednesday, March 23 — Jenuine Cupcakes (US)
Thursday, March 24 — This Kid Reviews Books (US)
Friday, March 25 — Fiction Fascination (UK)
Monday, March 28 — Gobblefunked (ANZ)
Tuesday, March 29 — MumtoFive.com (ANZ)
Wednesday, March 30 — Playing by the Book (UK)
Author and illustrator Kelly Light shows Storymakers host Rocco Staino how to draw the fierce and fantastic cat from Louise Loves Art.
Ready! Set! Draw! is the drawing tutorial show for anyone who aspires to draw like their favorite kid lit illustrators. In each episode a bestselling and/or award-winning artist draws a character from their book. Budding artists will enjoy creating their very own versions of familiar and new characters.
Louise Loves Art – Meet Louise. Louise loves art more than anything. It’s her imagination on the outside. She is determined to create a masterpiece—her pièce de résistance! Louise also loves Art, her little brother. This is their story. Louise Loves Art is a celebration of the brilliant artist who resides in all of us.
Author and illustrator Kelly Light grew up on the New Jersey shore surrounded by giant pink dinosaurs, cotton candy colors, and Skee-Ball sounds. She was schooled on Saturday-morning cartoons and Sunday funny pages. She picked up a pencil, started drawing, and never stopped. Kelly has illustrated Elvis and the Underdogs and Elvis and the Underdogs: Secrets, Secret Service, and Room Service by Jenny Lee, and The Quirks series by Erin Soderberg.
Kelly is an International Ambassador of Creativity for The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity! The Center is a non-profit founded by Chuck Jones, the animator, artist and director of so many of the cartoons that we think of when we just think the word “cartoon”. In his lifetime, Chuck enjoyed talking to and encouraging younger artists. The center continues in this spirit to ignite creative thinking through free art classes for kids, creativity workshops, presentations and talks for kids and adults meant to inspire and enlighten. The center also has outreach programs to local schools who have lost their art funding and visits senior citizen centers to provide drawing and creativity exercises for greater mental and emotional health.
The Little Mouse Santi is an inspiring tale that teaches us that, with a little courage, we can all be whoever we want to be. It’s definitely the cat’s meow!Add a Comment
You walked out the door this morning. Why did you do it? Perhaps because you wanted to stretch your legs. Perhaps because you wanted to feel the fresh air on your face and the wind blowing through your hair. Is that it? Not quite. I bet you also walked out the door this morning because the phone didn’t ring a second earlier.Add a Comment
Quackers Written and Illustrated by Liz Wong Alfred A. Knopf BYR 3/22/2016 978-0-553511543 32 pages Ages 3—6 “Quackers is a duck. Sure, he may have paws and whiskers. And his quacks might sound more like…well, meows, but he lives among ducks, everyone he knows is a duck, and he’s happy. Then Quackers meets …Add a Comment
That we refuse to have a pet cat is an ongoing source of frustration for my kids (if you’re curious as to why, several of the reasons are covered in this article) and so when M and J discovered Poppy’s Place: The Home-made Cat Café they hungrily swallowed it whole, making notes as they read, plotting quietly with each other when ever they though I wouldn’t notice.
Isla is cat crazy, but her mum refuses to let her have one as a pet. Isla’s mum works as a veterinary nurse and the last thing she wants after a busy day at work is to come home to more animals who need looking after. But then Poppy appears in their lives…
This especially lovely cat, in need of a home, turns up at around the same time as Isla’s granny comes to stay for the first time since becoming a widow. Gentle strands exploring family relationships, the grieving process, and the adjustments that have to be navigated as family shapes change all come together in this sweet story where Isla comes up with an entrepreneurial way to persuade her mum to finally let her dream come true and have a cat at home.
And as the title alludes to… not just one cat, but a full on fantasy for many a feline fan: the creation of their very own cat café, a place where you can not only get great cake, but can enjoy a coffee with a cat purring in your lap. The experience of reading books is often about escaping into dreams you wish could become reality, and for my girls this was definitely the case with Poppy’s Place: The Home-made Cat Café!
This is a feel-good, gentle comfort-read of a story, ideal for fans of Holly Webb’s animal stories, or perhaps those who like Jacqueline Wilson’s younger fiction. Isla’s persistence and her tech savvy big sister’s kindness are great, and the way the community comes together to support a project is another charming side to this story. Both my kids are very pleased there is to be second book later in the year following the characters they’ve met in Poppy’s Place… even if they’re still getting nowhere when it comes to persuading me that we should have a cat. At least now they can live vicariously through Isla!
I wouldn’t want you to think that I have a heart of stone, even though I refuse to have pets. I really do have a soft side, and I even let it show one day after school when the kids came home to this:
The girls ordered from the menu…
Can you spot all the different feline-themed food?
We may not have had any real cats in our café, but we certainly had a few who stepped out from stories. Who can you spot?
If you’d like to make your own cat café at home, please feel free to use our menu template. It has endorsements from all sorts of fictional cats (Garfield says of the café: “Paw-sitively the yummiest place to eat even if there isn’t any lasagna…“), and also some cat-themed book recommendations on the back. You can download the menu cover here (pdf), and the inside (ready for you to fill with your own choice of food) here (pdf).
Except for the book covers and the silhouette cats, all the images used in the menu come from the British Library Flickr Stream, an amazing set of over a million images from British Library held material, free for anyone to use, remix and re-purpose.
Whilst dining in our home made cat café we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading Poppy’s Place include:
If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:
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Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.