Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cat Books Aplenty!

One of my duties at my Library is to catalog new acquisitions.  Unlike my people colleagues, this does not mean that I type a bunch of mumbo-jumbo into MARC (MAchine Readable Catalog or Cataloging) Records so that patrons and reference librarians can find where stuff is shelved.  My type of cataloging involves finding feline books and doing the "readers' advisory" thing by writing about them.  Which brings us here.

(As an aside, let me just say that I have the utmost respect for cataloging librarians.  Theirs is the most difficult and essential responsibility in all of librarydom [not a word, but oughtta be].  Catalogers are the S.W.A.T. teams or special forces of librarianship.  Only the best and brightest need apply, and, at the risk of affronting my reference-oriented colleagues, catalogers give me more frequent snacks.  Okay, Lady With the Red Hair, where's that "Mr. Jackson" you promised me if I sang catalogers' praises?)

For the record, I have the greatest respect for reference librarians, too (except, of course, for Scowl-Face).  They are the "masters of the know," and if you don't think so, just try finding any information through any medium.  I guarantee that reference librarians can find more and better information faster, everytime.  (Go ahead and put down a "Mr. Hamilton" to bet on it.  You'll lose, unless you're a reference librarian yourself.)

Back to the readers' advisory thing.  Our Library has some jim-dandy books about cats in our EASY reading collection (targeted to patrons just beginning to read, or for children to whom caregivers are reading), or our R2R (Ready-to-Read, Level 2) collection, for readers who have started reading but have not yet moved up to chapter books.

Titanicat, by Marty Crisp
Illustrated by Robert Papp
(Sleeping Bear Press, 2008)

This beautifully written and illustrated book tells the tale of Jim, a lad whose job aboard the S.S. Titanic was to care for the ship's cat and her newborn kittens.  What happened to them makes moving reading.  Since everybody knows the Titanic sank after striking an iceberg shortly before midnight on April 14, 1912 (it sank early next morning), one would assume that the story's outcome could be predicted, but cats are full of surprises.  Although fictional, the story is based on statements from Titanic survivors.

Cat Dreams, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Illustrated by S.D. Schindler
(Orchard Books, 2009)

Sure, kitties dream.  All intelligent life forms dream.  In fact, I am prepared to go so far as to say that all life forms dream, and that existence itself is the grandest dream of all.  (Okay, enough metaphysics.)  Have you ever wondered what cats dream about?  Science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin offers her imaginative insights in this book, along with vivid illustrations by S.D. Schindler. 

The Pig is in the Pantry; The Cat is on the Shelf
by Shirley Mozelle (illustrated by Jennifer Plecas)
(Clarion Books, 2000)

Mr. McDuffel forgot to lock the door when he left, which is like putting a huge, neon-flashing welcome sign for eight barnyard animals who sneak into the farmhouse and raise the roof with their hilarious antics.  The watercolor illustrations are whimsical, which fits the alliterative text and silliness of the situation.  Young readers will enjoy counting animals and telling time as they see what mischief the critters get into. It is an excellent read-aloud book.

Mr. Pusskins and Little Whiskers: Another Love Story
by Sam Lloyd
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007)

When a kitten is introduced into the household, any older feline will tell you how irritating the youngster becomes.  Just ask my pals, Biscuit, and his protégé, Junior (of Junior's Farm), or Gracie ("Baby"), all of whom had to endure Harley, a kitten who is my "cub" reporter.  In the story, Emily introduces  a kitten, Little Whiskers, to Mr. Pusskins, an older cat.  Mr. Pusskins is the likeness of Scowl-Face in Mr. Lloyd's delightfully descriptive illustrations.  Little Whiskers is just too cute for words. It is a bumpy road for the purr-fectly mismatched duo, but sweetness triumphs over surliness.  Lesson to learn there, Scowl-Face.

Bad Kitty, by Nick Bruel
(Roaring Brook Press, 2005)
MPL Call No. R2R BRU

This title seems unduly harsh.  Are cats ever truly bad?  It's mostly people who misunderstand or misinterpret our behavior--in short, they overlay badness onto us through their perceptions.   Worse, people frequently do things that are just plain infuriating to us felines. Since we don't speak people languages (although we clearly understand them well enough), we must exhibit our displeasure through behaviors that people label as "bad."  Author/artist Nick Bruel describes this process in colorful progressions of pictures and definitional words, which will build young readers' vocabularies (in English, anyway) while teaching the moral that one should atone for bad behavior by being good.

Some Titles in the Rotten Ralph Series
by Jack Gantos (illustrated by Nicole Rubel)
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2009)

Ralph is a "rotten" cat because he behaves however he likes, regardless of consequences.  When people do that, it's self-indulgent; with felines, it's creative free expressionism.  Nonetheless, Ralph learns that all actions have consequences, some of which can be unpleasant.  The colorful drawings are fun, and the stories will engage young readers while imparting some useful life (or nine lives) lessons.

Cat in the Hat Songbook, by Dr. Seuss
(Piano score and guitar chords by Eugene Poddany)
(Random House, 1967)

You can't talk about kitty books without mentioning The Cat in the Hat series by Dr. Seuss.  The songbook is loaded with fun tunes packed with Seuss silliness that kids and adults will enjoy singing.  These are great for small groups, especially if somebody can play guitar or piano (like The Music Man, who writes musical compositions for our Library).
The Summer Cat, by Howard Knotts
 (Harper & Row, 1981)

This book describes my personal story, although it was written 30 years ago.  Nobody knew where Apple Blossom came from in the evenings, or disappeared to during the days, but this calico cat was much beloved.  Mr. Knotts' black-and-white illustrations may seem quaint to modern readers, but they pictorially describe what's happening along with the text, which young readers should find challenging and engaging.  Loving has its limits when what you love belongs to someone else.  But love is good.  Can't argue about that.

If you have young readers (or read to them), check these books out at my Library.  You can view our online catalog on our website (click "catalog" on the menu along the left side of our home page).

Reading Makes Me Hungry, But, Then, What Doesn't?,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Good Books for Younger Readers News Beat

P.S.  Enjoy Nashville Cats, by the Lovin' Spoonful (1966).


  1. A lot of kids here are fans of the "Bad Kitty" books. I should probably read one.

  2. Great cat books u have shown there! My son and myself love books about cats. Have been reading the Dewey small town library cat books which are fantastic which I'm sure u know. Enjoyed the Nashville cat song!!


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