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Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats and Robbers

Russell Ayto

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408876503

While inside the house everything appeared to be as it should, outside three robbers were spying on it and making a list of things they would take once they were inside. They had dismissed the paintings, the vases, the sculptures and the sweets and their primary goal was the safe! So in they crept intent on their mission.

But they did not know they were being watched by two cats. Two cats who had their own reasons why the safe was sacred and would not be taken, and who put into place a plan to protect it.

This is a delightfully funny story that will have young readers in stitches as the slapstick comedy plays out and they want to discover who wins! The twist in the end is perfect…

Written with repetitive phrases and clever use of bold font, it is made for reading aloud with the reader using the cues to build up the tension and suspense. This is not a book that can be read in a monotone with no passion or engagement. Lots of fun and lots of scope for ideas to foil the robbers and their plans.

A Cat Called Trim

A Cat Called Trim

A Cat Called Trim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cat Called Trim

Corinne Fenton

Craig Smith

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760631840

On a dark night 220 years ago a little kitten. more adventurous than his brothers and sisters, fell from the deck of HMS Reliance into the deep, dark sea doomed to drown if it had not been for the quick thinking of a sailor, Matthew Flinders who threw a rope to the struggling creature and it was smart enough to clamber to safety.

And so began the story of Trim, the cat that became the constant companion of the man who was to be the first to circumnavigate this continent, prove it was an island and give it its modern name of Australia.  In some places, Trim is almost as well-known as Flinders himself, being immortalised in several books, including Flinders’ own biography Trim, Being the True Story of a Brave Seafaring Cat; Matthew Flinders’ Cat by Bryce Courtenay; news stories, and various monuments around the world, including Sydney.

In this stunning picture book, Fenton and Smith have drawn on a wide variety of sources to present the story of this famous cat to younger readers , offering not only a true tale but also a glimpse into the early exploration of this country, perhaps sparking an investigation of Flinders’ own story and its wider ramifications. Fenton’s factual retelling of Trim’s adventures combined with Smiths detailed, lifelike illustrations bring together a story that all our children should know in a way that puts a human face on history, bringing names and events to life in a unique way.

A peek inside…

 

A must for both primary and secondary collections.

 

Flat Cat

Flat Cat

Flat Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flat Cat

Hiawyn Oram

Gwen Millward

Walker Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406371543

High in an apartment at the top of a tall building in one of the world’s busiest cities Sophie lives with her parents and her pet cat that she called Jimi-My-Jim.  She loves Jimi-My-Jim dearly and spoils him in every possible way.  But Jimi-My-Jim is not happy – for all that he has all the things a cat could want, the one thing he desires most is a cat friend.  But there is no way out of the apartment  and as he watches the world go by from the apartment window for hours and hours, days and days, he begins to go flat. Soon, hHe even looked as flat as he feels

Then one day, he finds a way to escape and he finds himself in the world of the city and its “fat cats, cool cats, jazz cats, boss cats, scaredy cats, alley cats, cat burglars, cat-nappers and even a few dogs who thought they were the cat”s whiskers.”

But is this a new life for Jimi-My-Jim or is he destined to be a Flat Cat watching on from the window for ever?

This is an intriguing book for young readers who love cats and who will adore the amazing, distinctive artwork that helps to tell Jimi-My-Jim’s tale.  But there is also an undertone of whether it’s right to keep animals in places where they are cooped up all day and can’t access the outdoors.  And whether things are a substitute for getting outside, friendship and all the other stuff that a wider world can offer.

And it brings to mind T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,  the foundation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats. Perhaps it could be an entry point into those poems starting with Macavity’s Not There! Nothing like getting our youngest readers into worlds perhaps considered beyond them via a genuine bridge!

 

 

Catvinkle

Catvinkle

Catvinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catvinkle

Elliot Perlman

Laura Stitzel

Puffin, 2018 

240pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143786368

Catvinkle lives in Amsterdam, with her barber-owner Mr Sabatini, and she likes to think that the world revolves around her, as cats generally do. From her basket near the fireplace in what she considers to be her room, she watches the legs and feet of the passers-by as they walk past her window, delighted when she sees someone with socks that don’t match and occasionally swishing her tail that has a big red bow tied to it. All is well with her world.

But one day, kindly Mr Sabatini brings home a stray Dalmatian to live with them and Catvinkle’s life is not only interrupted but is irrevocably changed.  Even though cats and dogs are not supposed to like each other, Ula’s politeness and meekness impress Catvinkle and gradually they become friends.  But when they present their friendship to others of their species, they find that what they have is not necessarily acceptable to all.

Written in response to what the author describes “as a ‘surge in, and tolerance for, racism and bullying’ in public discourse” this is a gentle story that addresses  that racism and bullying and promotes social inclusion while remaining on the surface, a story about an unlikely friendship between a cat and a dog. If they can accept a llama who plays backgammon, why can’t others?

Perlman has been short-listed twice for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and his skill with putting words onto paper is very evident – this story, while intended for young independent readers, engages adults so it makes a perfect bedtime read-aloud to younger children too.

Something different for those who like something different. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Cat Spies Mouse

Cat Spies Mouse

Cat Spies Mouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Spies Mouse

Rina A. Foti

Dave Atze

Big Sky Publishing. 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925675344

When Cat spies mouse, he grabs him and tells him he is going to gobble her up.  But being a feisty mouse, she disagrees and asks, “Why would you do that?” And so begins a back-and-forth conversation about the fairness of bigger being allowed to eat smaller because “that’s the way it is”. Mouse, who must be terrified, nevertheless has courage and tries to convince Cat that it would be better to be friends, but Cat is not interested until along comes D-O-G!

Told entirely in conversation with different coloured text identifying each speaker, this is a charming story about assumed power invested by size – just because you’re bigger doesn’t make you in charge – and it will promote discussion about whether being little means giving in or having rights. Is Cat (or Dog) a bully? Mouse’s arguing against the status quo is very reminiscent of little ones who feel injustice keenly but who don’t quite know how to get something sorted, although they are determined to win and make their own world fairer. Having the courage to speak up for change is a big lesson in assertiveness, and while parents might end the conversation with “Because I said so!” it is nevertheless a sign that their little one is maturing and gaining independence. 

The illustrations are divine – set on a white background, all the emotions and feelings are contained in the animals’ body language and facial expressions that even without being able to read the words for themselves, very young readers will still be able to work out the story and participate in that crucial pre-reading behaviour.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity – this is a thought-provoking read that we can all take heed of, regardless of our age!

 

Maya & Cat

Maya & Cat

Maya & Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya & Cat

Caroline Magerl

Walker Books, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9781921977282

On a roof, as wet as a seal, as grey as a puddle, Cat was rumbling, a rumbly purr.  Through the window from the warmth of her bedroom, Maya spots Cat and tries to entice her inside, safe from the wet and wild outdoors. But feather boas, pink shoelaces and a pompom on a stick are not what Cat wants.  And although a can of sardines placed at the back door brings her hungry tummy down, Cat returns to her perch on the roof, wet and forlorn. 

Determined that one of the windows shining its warm light on the bleakness, Maya is determined to  find Cat’s home but every door she knocks on is not the one. Until she finds Cat in her bicycle basket as though it is saying, “Let me show you…”  

This is a stunning story of a little girl’s determination to help reunite a pet with its owners and the beautiful reward she is offered. The heartache of separation for both humans and pets is  a familiar one as anyone with a Facebook feed would know and so it will resonate with so many readers, adult and child alike.  The language is poetic, the ink and watercolour illustrations are exquisite with the one where Maya is cycling along the jetty taking me straight back to my 1950s childhood favourites in Edward Ardizzone’s  series about Tim. Having seen hundreds of thousands of illustrations over my time as a teacher, one that instantly brings back such warm memories means the book is an instant winner for me! The subtlety of the palette, the blend of colours, the intricacy of the linework, the detail in every illustration not only bring the words to life but offer so much to see as it is read again and again, providing a stark contrast to the bright, bold computer-generated works that our students are so familiar with.  This is a series of lessons about visual literacy and the need to look deep within, the purpose of picture books and the connections between text and graphics, author, illustrator and reader all wrapped up in one engaging, enthralling story. 

This is more than just a story about a girl and a lost cat – it’s a celebration of words and pictures that is likely to become an enduring childhood memory for many.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Scaredy Cat

Scaredy Cat

Scaredy Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scaredy Cat

Heather Gallagher

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2018 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925594171

“Have you seen my Scaredy Cat?

He’s afraid of this and afraid of that…”

There are many things that put fear into her beloved pet like “noise and walking toys and  calling, sprawling, brawling boys”  but the little girl is very brave and protective and happy to keep him safe.

The repetitive text, rhyme and rhythm make this a catchy story to read and share and the clean, crisp illustrations provide lots to enjoy but don’t overwhelm the page so that the reader can still have fun trying to find Scaredy Cat in them.  He’s there in each one.  The ending is quite unexpected. 

One to make us think about how far we would go for our pets. 

 

Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hickory Dickory Dash

Tony Wilson

Laura Wood

Scholastic Press, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781743811160

Mother Mouse  – the one in the rhyme, the one that climbed the clock at one, then ran back down – is frantic with worry and in a desperate hurry to find her two bold sons.  They had been playing outside in the moonlight when the cat pounced quite unannounced and they scarpered for safety.  Now  Mother Mouse is searching the house for them with the cat hot on her tail.

Where can they be?  They are not in the playroom or the kitchen; not the pantry or the garage or even the backyard.  Every room in the house is visited in this desperate dash,  as wherever she searches the cat is there, ready to pounce but being bamboozled each time  either by mouse savvy, swiftness or circumstance.  

Finally, exhausted and sobbing after two hours of searching, Mother Mouse sits on the verandah almost without hope – and then she has an idea…

Even if this hadn’t been selected for the 2018 National Simultaneous Storytime  it would have been an automatic hit with a wide range of readers.  As with his first book, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon Wilson has drawn on a familiar nursery rhyme and given it new life with his own twist and message of perseverance and the lengths a parent goes to for the love of their children. Clever rhymes move the story along at a dashing pace and with the cat in hot pursuit, the reader wonders if this will have a happy ending.  As well as the suspense there is also humour – the cat’s fate in the nursery will produce a LOL moment- as each time Mother Mouse narrowly escapes a horrible fate.  Laura Woods’ illustrations  use so many different perspectives  that we can feel Mother Mouse’s fear as well as using light and shade cleverly to bring the house at midnight alive and  put critical elements in focus. 

Suggestions for using the story as part of NSS 2018 are available but as May 23 draws closer there are bound to be more and more available as it lends itself to many facets of the curriculum, including maths.  But even without formal curriculum-related activities, this is just a rollicking read that is likely to become raucous as the children are drawn into to its almost vaudeville-like humour.  Watch out, Mother Mouse!

 

Pete the Cat – Meet Pete

Pete The Cat: Meet Pete

Pete The Cat: Meet Pete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete The Cat: Meet Pete

James Dean

HarperCollins, 2017

18pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

 9780062675170

From posts sent to a US teacher librarian network, Pete the Cat is one of the most popular characters for preschoolers and now our youngsters can meet him and his friends in this new tabbed board book.  With each character having its own tab, little fingers can easily turn to the page that they are seeking – a very early manifestation of the role of an index in the information literacy process!

With a strong emphasis on songs and music and a myriad of online resources to enrich and enhance the child’s experience, this little cat is sure to become a favourite here too. 

Finn and Puss

Finn and Puss

Finn and Puss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finn and Puss

Robert Vescio

Melissa Mackie

EK Books, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781925335507

When Finn, a lonely little boy, finds a lost cat it would seem their problems are solved.  Finn has a friend and the cat has a home. 

But then Finn spots a poster advertising the cat as lost … Will he return it or is their friendship more important to him?

Told in a few words but with exquisite illustrations that are as gentle as the story but rich in emotion and detail, this  is a story which explores the connections between a child and a pet and how hard it can be to do the right thing.  But sometimes that right thing can have its own reward.

Charming.