Posts tagged ‘cats’

CAT CITY CAPER

The Three Pirate City Cats

Written and illustrated by John E. Dorey

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Cute picture book for students in the primary grades. I like the author’s layout using speech bubbles for the text and animation type illustrations for the animal characters. Dorey introduces his readers to three abandoned cat siblings, Grace, Sam and Charlie. Left to fend for themselves they observe a human watching a TV show about pirates. The siblings are frightened by a dog, who turns out to be a friend. He leads them to a storage locker that will provide them with the props they need to create their own pirate adventure.

This forty two page book has visual and story-line appeal for early readers. My only criticism of the book is that it does not provide a conclusion, but rather invites the reader to create their own story. While I certainly do not object to an interactive story, some readers may be disappointed that there is no definite denouement to the plot. That is my reason for not giving the book a five star rating.

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LIFE LESSONS

Kids Book: Judge Monkey and other Stories (Illustrated Moral Stories for Children)

Written by D.R. Tara

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Five stories from varied cultures which illustrate moral codes of behavior. In the first story, Judge Monkey is asked by two hungry cats to settle a dispute. Coming upon a piece of bread, they want to know how they can possibly divide it equally. The clever monkey offers to be an impartial judge but tricks both of them. Our two hungry cats learn the moral the cooperation between friends is better than fighting. The second tale about a tiger, farmer and jackal is much longer than the first. The characters learn that despite appearances one must never give up because a clever person can get out of the most difficult situations. Two other tales center on a money lender and a farmer and a foolish student. My favorite story is the one about the King Cobra snake and the ants. The cobra is puzzled when the ants appear unafraid of him. Working together the ants sting his scales, proving that a bully can be overcome when those who are oppressed unite against the bully.

Each story is previewed with a large color illustration depicting the main characters in the tale. These assist a young reader in interpreting the moral. While the tales are targeted for ages nine through twelve, I believe the length of the book is more appropriate for readers in the five through eight age group. Suggested use is a read aloud followed by discussion or a bedtime story.

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TAKEN FOR GRANTED?

Easter is Cancelled

Written and Illustrated by Sally Huss

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Sally Huss never seems to run out of ideas to inspire our youngest readers to think about what is really important. Eastertime is coming up soon, but it seems this year will be very different. While the other animals are already working hard, the star of the show is not! The pigs have been gathering grass, the dogs are mixing chocolate, the chickens are laying eggs, and the cats are dyeing the eggs. To their dismay, they find the Easter Bunny relaxing in a hammock, with a sign nearby that says he is cancelling Easter this year. Why? No one ever thanks him. The wise old owl comes to the rescue by giving the animals his advice. He suggests that the animals find a child to make the Easter Bunny feel more important. What is that message and will the animals succeed in finding the right child to give him that message? Exactly what does the Easter Bunny need to hear to change his mind and rescue Easter for all?

Like most of this series, the book is targeted for children ages two through eight. This one is probably more geared to preschoolers. Bright, happy illustrations and a simple message will warm the hearts of young readers and the parents or teachers who are reading it aloud.

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HITTING THE LOTTERY

Catnapped

Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Illustrated by Daniel Weatheritt
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Charming early chapter mystery book of less than fifty pages that is perfect for the beginning reader. Jenna bemoans the fact that her Nanna has moved from a bustling Australian city to a quiet house on Wattle Drive. Well, actually not that quiet, Nanna has adopted several pets: Oscar a large orange cat, Goliath, a large Great Dane, Cleo, a black and white cat, Albert, a python snake, and Polly, a chatterbox parrot, who enjoys watching police shows. One night while watching TV, Nanna screams with joy when she finds out that she has just won the lottery. Nanna quickly decides that after setting some money aside for Jenna’s education and a trip to Disneyland; she will use the rest to take her friend Alice to the Sydney Opera House, but give the bulk of the money to build a special home for cats that nobody wants.

Cass Snatchit and her lazy teenage brother Jack read of Nanna’s good fortune in the newspaper. They live in a run-down trailer and quickly decide that they will kidnap Nanna’s cat and demand a large sum of money for ransom. The author details their plans to spy on her and break into her house. Will they succeed in their plan to swindle Nanna and foil her generous plan for the lotto winnings?

The six chapters are short and the text is easy to read and conversational. Characters are fun, and the black and white pencil illustrations are charming. I do think the illustrations might have been more effective if they were larger and in color. This book has lots of elements a child age six to nine will enjoy: animals, the good guys and the bad guys, and a touch of humor. Recommended as an independent reader or read aloud at home, in the classroom or for siblings to share with one another.

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OPPOSITES ATTRACT

The Rescue Team

Written by Billi Tiner

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The author of this heartwarming tale told from the point of view of a dog and a cat is a veterinarian who understandably has a great kinship with animals. Targeted for children in the eight to twelve year age range, the chapter book has no sex, violence or profanity which makes it a nice choice for a family read aloud. This book will take you on a series of adventures that will put you in their shoes.

The adventure begins when Ellie, who is a one year old Border Collie, suddenly finds herself in an animal shelter when her owners become pregnant. After what seems like an eternity, a kind woman named Anne adopts her. Ellie soon discovers that her new owner loves animals; Ellie begins to bring animals in trouble home. Soon she is sharing her home with Toby, a six-month old kitten who becomes her best friend. Together they will form an improbable but talented rescue team.

When Anne is hurt in an automobile accident, she meets a fireman named Brent and their lives become even more involved in animal and human rescue. They will all face adventures and disasters that hit close to home. The plot is simple and predictable, but the author has a real knack for using first person to get the reader in the head of the animal characters. Text level of difficulty is suitable for middle grade independent readers; younger children will enjoy listening to the story read aloud. Nice book to curl up with on a rainy weekend afternoon.

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ALIEN CATS?

Why Kimba Saved the World (Cats in the Mirror) Book 1

Written by Meg Dendler

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First in a series of middle grade chapter books featuring a family which includes four cats and a dog along with their human family. In this book, Kimba, a heterochromatic cat, is recruited by an agency of sci-fi cats to restore cats to their rightful place as rulers of the universe.

Kimba is distinct not only due to the fact that she has one green and one blue eye, but also because she combines the curiosity of a cat with the sensitivity of a human. Kimba and her sister Hiro’s lives change one day when Kimba sees a mysterious image in the bathroom mirror. Turns out a race of cats led by its leader Regalus are plotting a world-wide takeover and Kimba has been selected to be one of their spies. But Kimba has never even been outside the house, and Hiro has even less interest in changing her comfortable existence. How can they possibly succeed?

The story line starts out slowly, then builds up as Kimba eventually must choose between her family and her cat lineage. Dendler knows the character and personality of felines well; she does a superb job of getting into Kimba’s head and allowing the reader to identify with her. Middle grade readers who love animals will like this book; it paints a realistic picture with enough sci-fi details to make the story convincing. In the end, Kimba, like many of her young readers in their everyday lives, is forced to make a difficult decision. Where does her loyalty lie?

Recommended as an independent read for students age nine through twelve or as a read aloud by a librarian or classroom teacher. Available in kindle and paperback. The second and third books in the series have recently been released.

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CAPTIVATING CATS

Coming Home (the journey of two special cats)

Written by Jane Ayres

Coming Home cover

This short novella is targeted for pre teens and teens, but cat-loving adults will enjoy it just as much. Ayres has written many books about ponies and horses; in this particular book she displays a unique talent in having the ability to make the reader experience the story through the cat’s eyes. Sky and Max are two beautiful sibling cats who are abandoned and found by Kira. She pleads with her parents to adopt them. They agree reluctantly. Soon after Kira’s parents are divorced, she and her mother Joy are about to move to the seacoast.

Tragedy strikes when the cats are trapped in a garage overnight. Kira pleads with her mom but the moving van is ready to leave. She urges her neighbors to contact her if they see her beloved cats. One mishap after another befalls Kira and the cats. Kira goes searching for them; she is robbed and left abandoned overnight at a train station. The cats search the old neighborhood frantically. They find temporary shelter with a homeless man and a good Samaritan named Gabrielle who unknowingly aids Kira get back home. Kira and the cats keep missing each other until an automobile accident and trip to the vet allows Sky to be traced by microchip. But Sky is crestfallen without her Max and both of them are now on the verge of death. Will the feline siblings ever be reunited? Does Kira ever get her life in her new home back on track?

The author writes from the heart and gives from the heart. All the proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to a charity for cats. I read the entire book in a couple of hours. Simply could not put it down until I found out what fate had in store for the devoted and compassionate Kira and her stalwart pets. A heartwarming read that teaches persistence and compassion.

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NEOLITHIC NIGHTMARES

Angel Bones (Angel Cats)

Written by Linda Deane

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This is the second book in a series exploring the somewhat mystical and supernatural powers of cats. But make no mistake, this book is not a fantasy novel. It is set in the neolithic age on the island of Cyprus on which recent archaeological excavation has revealed, cats were present in the neolithic period, about six thousand years before their domestication in Egypt.

It is a short novella, yet the plot explores characters in depth and there are many twists and turns in the adventurous life of Melita, Yannis and their three children. They have been driven from their home on the mainland to flee in a makeshift boat in the dark of night due to the jealousy and superstition of their peers. A trader named Andros attempted to woo Melita and when she refused him, he spread rumors implicating her as a sorceress because of her gift in communicating with animals, especially the strange creatures later known as cats. He was also jealous of Melita’s husband, who was a gifted tool maker and pottery artisan. Their terror escalated until the family feared for their lives.

Eventually they land on an island only to find a strange people who had never seen cats. Over a period of time, the family earns the trust and respect of the village. However, as they settle into a peaceful existence, trouble looms on the horizon once more as a hunting party from the mainland arrives to stir up trouble in the tranquil settlement. Melita and her daughter called Eleni will have to summon all their strength and powerful connections with Tammy, their cat, in a desperate effort to survive and save the community.

The author develops the characters well; the reader quickly identifies with the personalities of each and the conflicts each must face, whether they be good or evil in intent. There are many twists and turns in this short read. One senses the overwhelming hardships and difficulties early humans faced in their daily existence in the face of the powerful forces of nature and the brute force of a “might makes right” philosophy. Tweens, teens and adults will all enjoy this carefully researched historical fiction story with just a tinge of the supernatural. I am looking forward to more in the series.

THIS CAT IS NO RAT

The Amazing, Super Secret, Undercover Life of Roscoe the Cat

Written by Richard Kelley

Photographs by Sherrill Kelley

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This short adventure is the story of a cat who leads a double life as a secret agent. At the beginning of the tale the reader meets Roscoe and his sibling, Olive who have been rescued from a shelter. They have some difficulty adjusting to life with the resident house cat, Cayenne, but soon all become friends. Roscoe finds the life of a house cat very comfortable. Still, Roscoe is a very strange cat in one respect; at night he becomes a secret agent prowling the area to solve whatever mischief is afoot.

One night Roscoe notices a small tear in the cat food bag in the laundry room. He leaves his fellow cats to guard his warm bed spot and investigates. He thinks he knows the culprit but does not confront him. The mystery continues for a few nights until Roscoe discovers that a rat has been stealing the food. At first he is determined to kill him, but after looking the rat in the eye, he changes his mind. Roscoe discovers that the rat was cold and hungry so he broke in to find shelter and survival. Remembering his earlier fate, Roscoe persuades all the cats in the household to befriend him.

Okay, this does sound a bit ridiculous that a cat who is the natural enemy of the rat would suddenly let him off the hook. However, the book does teach children that we can have empathy for those we have been taught are our enemy and all of us have the same basic needs and wants for survival. This book is filled with adorable photographs that children and adults will enjoy. Young children will delight in the book as a read aloud. It also makes a good beginning reader for children in the early elementary grades.

The author is a medical doctor who is also a fitness expert. He has written books on health and the Christian faith. Kelley now has expanded his writing interests to include children’s books. If you and your family love cats, this book might be a good choice.

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TURTLE TRUTHS

Samantha Loses The Box Turtle

Written by Daisy Griffin
Illustrated by Matthew Gauvin
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This book is a fictional story about a girl named Samantha who is traveling with her grandparents and two younger sisters when a box turtle suddenly crosses the road. She pleads with them to stop, and to her surprise grandpa not only rescues the turtle but hands it to her. Once they return home, the girls plead with their parents to keep it, but mom explains that a box turtle needs to live in the wild. She agrees that they can keep it until the next day. Samantha also gets her teacher’s permission to bring the turtle to school.

Many adventures ensue as the turtle they have named Gayzer manages to escape both at home and in the classroom. Samantha introduces us to several of her friends and their reactions to her turtle. Because they are studying the food chain in science, their teacher, Mrs. Klutz, has devised a very clever “answer the question and pass the turtle” game to teach the children. At the same time, the reader is learning a lot of facts about turtles, nature and ecosystems. An element of suspense is introduced when the turtle goes missing and the neighborhood cat somehow gets into the classroom. This causes the entire student body to go into an uproar as everyone in the room desperately searches for Gayzer Samantha is supposed to protect and return her turtle to the nature preserve after school. Now she feels guilty that she may have caused it harm.

This chapter book with beautiful black and white illustrations is just over one hundred pages. The charming way the story is told will entertain children in first grade and up if read in chapters. Older children will amass a great deal of information about reptiles and nature; such as, how to tell the sex of a turtle, what they eat, how they survive in their habitats, and how long they live. The adult characters guide the children, but do not preach or make decisions for them. There is just the right amount of humor like naming the teacher Mrs. Klutz, and the toddler sister placing stickers on the turtle so that she could identify it when searching for it in the nature preserve. I thought the questions based on the book at the end were well done and an excellent resource for teachers to test comprehension. In the conclusion, the author reveals that the story is based on the real life experience of a family with three daughters and grandparents who rescue a box turtle named Gayzer and release it to a nature preserve. She also provides additional fun facts about box turtles and includes her website www.samsanimals.info. I am looking forward to many more animal adventure stories with Samantha and her family.

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