Tuesday, December 21, 2010
French for Cats & Advanced French for Exceptional Cats, by Henry Beard
People seem surprised that cats understand different human languages. Learning these languages is simple, if you remember the feline rule-of-paw: Learn only those words that get you what you want. The rest is just so much noise.
My manual for all things French (since I am le chat français) is the superb French for Cats: All the French Your Cat Will Ever Need, by Henry Beard and John Boswell (ill.) (New York: Villard Books, 1991), available at Mooresville Public Library (in the Evergreen Indiana catalog). An updated, expanded edition was published in 2005 by Random House under the title The Complete French for Cats, which included the 1991 title as well as Advanced French for Exceptional Cats, by Henry Beard and Gary Zamchick (ill.). To read a copy of the 1991 edition on Google Books, click here.
Cats and human language students share something in common: trying to understand what seems incomprehensible. Anyone who has used a foreign language phrase book while travelling in another country (something humans do, but cats have more self respect) will appreciate the author's clever melding of French phrases from the feline perspective. Beard is witty and satirical, and his parody works well. Boswell's illustrations match the tone of the writing without being too cute.
Watch the MPL book trailer below to learn more about this enjoyable read:
If you like this book, you will probably enjoy another Beard title, Poetry for Cats: the Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse (New York: Villard Books, 1994).
Poetry for Cats brilliantly lampoons the typical human high school or college poetry anthology textbook, rewriting classic poems from a cat's perspective. Feline poetry, of course, puts human efforts to shame, but people have trouble interpreting it, especially since it is written in the feline tongue, which is rather rough going for the uninitiated.
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
French News Beat