Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pioneer Cat

I like exciting adventures about cats.  I know some people who are doctors and lawyers who hate to watch television shows about doctors and lawyers, because these programs often stretch the reality of these professions all out of shape, or so these folks say.  But I could watch TV (or read books) about cats until the cows come home. Well, it takes one to know one (cats, not cows.  Well, I suppose it also takes a cow to know a cow, but that's more than I really wanted to know about cows anyway.  How now, brown cow.  Hah!  I've always wanted to say that in print, and you don't often get too many chances, to be sure.)

One book (written for young readers) that features a cat hero is Pioneer Cat, written by William H. Hooks and illustrated by Charles Robinson (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1988) (ISBN 9780394820385). This is one of the Stepping Stone book series that help younger readers dip their imaginations into chapter books.  It is 64 pages long, which sounds like a lot to humans between 8-10 years old, but the story really carries you along so quickly that the pages fly by.  School Library Journal recommends it to little humans between ages 9-12, but Publishers Weekly suggests ages 8-10.  I can never tell about those age things.  People years are so much different than feline years that all humans seem old to me.

Want to know the plot?  Check out our book trailer below.

I can really relate to this character, Snuggs, the kitty that nine-year-old Kate Purdy joins in her long trip on the Oregon Trail.  It's the middle of the 19th century, so they have to use wagons, horses, oxen, mules, and other neigh-sayers.  (Okay, wagons don't neigh, but they do make noise bouncing along those rutted dirt trails.)  Snuggs is a true pioneer kitty--a feline after my own heart--and she has kittens to boot.  Traveling over the American continent way back then was no picnic, and there are adventures aplenty for Snuggs, Kate, her friend Rosie, and their families and friends.  Snuggs, of course, saves the day repeatedly during many adventures, such as a buffalo stampede, encounters with Native Americans, difficult river crossings, trying to scale mountain passes, etc., etc.   Predictably, the humans writing and illustrating the book make it sound like people are the heroes, but any cat can tell you that kitties come to the rescue every time.

Will Snuggs, Kate, and her relatives and friends reach the beautiful Oregon territory?  Will they settle somewhere along the trail instead?  Will they all survive (after all, there were dread diseases and accidents to contend with) to begin new lives in the American Northwest?  Those answers await you in the book.  You'll have fun on this journey, because you don't actually have to suffer what the real pioneers endured to appreciate the experience.  That is the number one feline rule of paw:  Why suffer?  Ever?

I admire pioneer cats like Snuggs and the Purdy family (and the other settlers) who faced the daunting challenge of crossing the wild, untamed West to reach the land of their dreams.  Reading about their travels made me more interested to learn the actual history of the Oregon Trail.  How many cats really were wagon train captains?  Is it true that slobberdogs had to stay in the wagons at the rear?  I bet that's a folklore legend.

Onward, Pioneers!

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Western Migration News Beat

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