Recently, our friends Rick and Melissa adopted a little grey kitten. We are owners of two dogs (who do NOT like cats) so I had forgotten how soothing it is to have a purring cat in your lap. My childhood home always had a slew of cats, roaming about. We never lacked for a furry cat to fill our laps or curl up in the curve of our legs at night. Luna, our friend’s little kitten, brought back memories of home, comfort, and the joys of cats.
Luna with my daughter, Lindsay
Luna also reminded me that I had a book in my tottering, to-be-read pile by my bed – a gift from close friends, Dan and Carol, from our early marriage. The book was written by Dan’s mother, published by his family’s press and illustrated by their daughter, Ruth Anne. I reached for it the other night, and I sat down and read through Cat Tales – the Adventures of an Old Black Cat and her Family by Pauline Brown.
OBC (Old Black Cat) is adopted as a kitten by a family in Pakistan. OBC becomes part of the family and joins them as they travel many miles across Pakistan: trips to and from boarding school, trips to villages and big cities, trips to mountains and to sea. It’s a story full of adventures, family life, joys, tears, hellos and good-byes, a story of God’s provision and care for His creation both great and small. A wonderful TCK story your family is sure to relate to. Marilyn Gardner, her daughter, has a blog called Communicating Across Boundaries and she wrote a review of her mother’s book there Cat Tales – A Review. If you’ve never seen her blog, you are in for a treat. She is a gifted writer and writes insightful posts about cross-cultural communication and TCK issues.
Did you know that the purr distinguishes the cat from all other animals? Or that the cat never purrs when it is alone? This non-fiction picture book, by a Newbery Medal winning author of many books on nature and animals, is filled with fascinating information about the mysteries of cats and how to communicate with them. This book is a mix of lively and cartoonish illustrations of cats in various poses, interspersed with photos of the author interacting with cats. This is an eye-catching and informative book for all cats lovers.
If you have not experienced the stories of James Herriot, then you have missed out on some great animal tales. James Herriot is a British veterinarian and writer who shares his love of animals. He is the author of All Creatures, Great and Small and All Things Wise and Wonderful (adult novels). He also wrote picture books for younger children. Oscar, Cat-About-Town, is a heart-warming story about a cat adopted by the Herriot family (or should I say, that adopts the Herriot family). When Oscar goes missing over and over again, they discover their cat just loves to sneak off and join in the social events in the local village. I also recommend Moses the Kitten, and The Christmas Day Kitten, two other endearing and amusing cat stories by James Herriot.
A fun story about a cat who is left behind at a winter cabin and travels through the snow on a pair of skis especially made for him to find his family. Cheer on this feisty and brave cat who sets off on a perilous journey through winter woodlands.
This classic book, over 30 years old, is the story of a cat whose forgetfulness gets him into lots of trouble until one day it actually works in his favor. An irresistible, humorous story the whole family will enjoy.
Eric Litwin has created a unique series of books about a Cat named Pete, that combines simple text and songs (which you can download for free). James Dean created the character based on a cat he adopted from a shelter. I love My White Shoes is the first in the series. Fun and light reading for preschoolers and early readers.
Based on a true story, Leo appears one day at a small country church and soon becomes a favorite of everyone in the parish, joining in on all the church activities. He lived at the church for years and had many adventures. Every church should have a resident cat, don’t you think?
Clare Newberry’s books about cats are true and based on her own experience as a cat owner and lover. All her cat stories are drawn from life. This picture book, a Caldecott honor book, is a timeless classic. It is the story of a little girl who lives in a very small apartment in New York city with her cat. When her beloved cat has kittens, April must decide whether to keep her cat or one of the kittens. “This is not a two cat apartment” her parents tell her. What will she decide? Other cat stories by Newberry include Mittens (1936), Babette (1937) and Smudge (1948).
This is more than a cat story, it’s a story of friendship that crosses generations and race. When Larnel, a young African-American boy gives his elderly, Jewish neighbor a cat to ease her loneliness after her husband’s death, the two become close friends, sharing stories and special times together. A very moving and original story and one of Polacco’s many masterpieces. (ages 3-7)
In these beginning readers, elderly Mr. Putter and his tabby cat share a series of adventures. Although Tabby is old, she loves a bit of excitement, with her best friend and constant companion, gentle Mr. Putter. Whether it’s picking pears, or buying goldfish, or making soup, she loves to be in the thick of things. The whimsical illustrations are a perfect compliment to these short and humorous stories. There are 17 beginning readers in this series. (ages 6-10)
This gem was written by Tasha Tudor’s daughter and illustrated by Tasha Tudor. A simple, tender Christmas story to warm any animal lover’s heart and a great read at Christmas time. The book includes a recipe for gingerbread animal cookies. A good book, cookies and cats, what more does one need?
This story is told in a series of senryu (SEN-ree-yoo), a form of Japanese poetry similar to haiku (Hi-koo). A cat arrives at a shelter –
Yawn, I pretend not to care.
Yet – I sneak a peek.”
He is chosen by a family and settles into life in his new home. The independence and pride of the cat are contrasted with his vulnerability and his desire for love and belonging. This beautifully crafted book with bright eye-catching illustrations by Eugene Yelchin is sure to melt the heart of any child. (ages 4-8)
In this short Newbery Award winning novel, a Japanese painter, commissioned to create a painting for the village Buddhist temple, works diligently, under the watchful eye of his white cat. According to Buddhist legend, the cat was not given Buddha’s blessing because it was proud and did not follow his teachings. Will the painter risk his livelihood by painting a cat among all the other animals? Horn Book says this is “one of the thirty twentieth-century books that every adult should know.” (for ages 8+)
If your child likes cats, this fantasy series will become a favorite. This series has a real following and can be highly addictive. It is written by authors Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland, with the plot developed by editor Victoria Holmes, who collectively use the pseudonym Erin Hunter. There are six sub-series, each containing a set of six books. To get started, try the first series called Warriors: The Prophecies Begin. These books are animal fantasies, involving different clans of cats –ThunderClan, ShadowClan, WindClan, and RiverClan—and their many adventures in their forest and lake homes. These are fast-paced, with lots of action and suspense, intrigue and cliff-hangers. To learn more about the Warriors series, check out Erin Hunter’s website at http://www.warriorcats.com. (great for ages 10+) I have lots of these books in stock.
King-Smith, author of Babe, The Galant Pig, tells a humorous tale about a cat who lives on a farm and unlike the other cats, does not eat mice. He thinks they are cute and does his best to protect them from the rest of his family. This fast-paced, humorous story is a great read-aloud. (for ages 8-12) Be sure to check out King-Smith’s other animal novels as well.
This book, originally published in Spanish, is heart-warming and full of colorful feline characters. Zorba, the big black cat, makes a promise to a dying seagull to not eat her egg and instead watch over it until it hatches and make sure the baby seagull learns to fly. Along with her feline friends and a human, Zorba does just that, and in the process learn the joy of helping others. This book is a gem and makes a great read-aloud. School Library Journal describes Sepulveda’s novel as “a book with heart and soul.” I also have this book available in Spanish.
Note: All the above books are available to you and your family if you are living overseas. Don’t worry, dog lovers, I will also do a post about dogs soon.