How to Catch a Mouse
Clemmie kitten maintains a mouse-free home – or so she thinks. One would expect no less from a brave, fearsome mouse-catcher especially one that is a brilliant stalker and chaser as well as being patient and alert. And she knows – thanks to her book – all about mouse catching and mice.
Hold on though; we are now told that our heroic mouse catcher has never actually seen a mouse. Is that because they fear her so much or … (“Look behind you,” demands one of my listeners)
No matter; our little ginger moggie knows just what to look for: a long pink tail, round ears, a whiskery, pointy nose …
But nothing of that description comes within her view, does it?
By this stage in the book my young listeners were so involved in and delighted by what they could see, that they were almost climbing into the book themselves,
A wonderfully controlled, small comedy with a big impact. “Again!” was the immediate demand of another group I shared this with who equally enjoyed watching Clemmie and her mousing antics unfolding in the watercolour illustrations and loved it when she donned her disguise
after the light-bulb moment that comes once she’s disrobed her prey.
With its short, memorable text one five year old was delighted to discover she could read this “super story” herself after hearing it read aloud.
Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain?
Harriet Ziefert and Brigette Barrager
This enchanting book is a mix of story and facts relating to rain.
Readers and listeners are invited via Harriet Ziefert’s rhyming couplets to join in the search for a little girl’s Kitty. In so doing they will find out what rain is, and how cats and other animals – ducks, squirrels, beetles,
earthworms, butterflies …
and birds – react to a shower of rain. There is also information about how ducks make themselves waterproof, squirrel’s own personal, always ready brolly, butterflies’ anti-rain roosts and more.
With those harmonious, mannered illustrations of Brigette Barrager to make you smile on every spread; and a trail to follow (with a happy ending) …
this is just the thing to spark curiosity in the very young and get them further fascinated by the minutiae of life in the natural world.
Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats
Alicia Potter and Birgitta Sif
Miss Hazeltine, a big-hearted young woman opens her home to ‘Shy and Fearful Cats’ and before long she has a whole host of new inmates; some are strays, others have been made homeless but all are welcome. Lessons commence for her beloved moggies – Bird Basics in the morning, Climbing Up and Climbing Down in the afternoon and on the evening curriculum is Scary Noises. Other lessons are tailored to making new friends, pouncing, not being scared of the ‘Broom’ and some yoga style arching and thinking;
and Miss H. shows great understanding of reluctant joiners-in. She even goes so far as to tell them of her own fears and soon there develops a special understanding between her and Crumb, one of the least confident kitties.
Numbers continue to increase until one evening Miss Hazeltine is forced to go out for more milk. When she fails to return after dark having taken a tumble,
it’s down to Crumb to head a rescue mission; a rescue mission that means leading the others out into the scary pitch-black darkness to find the one they’ve come to love.
Despite being allergic to cats and near phobic if one comes near, I was utterly enchanted by this book with its wonderful cast of characters. Birgitta Sif’s slightly off-beat illustrations with their muted colours and the forest setting of the tale combine to give the whole thing the feeling of a fairy story; so too does the underdog – or rather cat- becoming the hero by overcoming great odds to rescue the one he loves. A quirky charm exudes from every spread: the sight of Miss H as yoga teacher is priceless and the forest scenes (with and without cats) have a real magical feel about them.
They beautifully complement Alicia Potter’s carefully chosen words for her well-crafted text, underlying which are ideas about self-belief, overcoming your fears, kindness and compassion.
Some children I shared this with were inspired to create their own inmates for Miss H’s Home.
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