Paris Cat

Paris Cat
Dianne Hofmeyer and Piet Grobler
Tiny Owl

Unlike the rest of her large family and many friends, there’s one Parisian Cat that wants to see more of the world than her smelly back-alley home.

So, one wet night she enters a busy café where singer Edith Piaf, is entertaining the customers. Cat decides to do likewise

but is soon sent packing.

Back out in the rain she finds refuge in a dressmaking atelier.

Once again Cat decides “I can do that,” and as soon as the establishment has closed, she gathers up all the fabric offcuts and fashions herself a sparkly dress, dons her new attire and heads to a nightclub.

There she sees Josephine Baker dancing along with a cheetah. Yet again Cat decides, “Pffh! I can do that” and up onto the stage she springs to show her own moves.

Chiquita the cheetah is impressed, so much so that ‘Kitty’ is invited back to dance again the following evening alongside Josephine.

So it is that every night, clad in a new outfit, courtesy of the snippets from Madame Delphine’s atelier, she dances the night away, becoming a regular part of the billed act.

Eventually Cat starts to miss her family and friends. This prompts her to open her very own nightclub – Madame Kitty’s Catacombs Club so that she can see them all regularly again.

Now it’s not just one, but many cats that, if you happen to be in the vicinity after dark, you might see dancing the night away, clad thanks to Madame Kitty, in their snazzy outfits.

And Madame Kitty? She may be there too, or perhaps another new adventure has lured her away.

I absolutely love Piet Grobler’s scratchy scenes of 1920s Paris nightlife that really bring to life Dianne Hofmeyer’s deliciously quirky tale of searching for the new, pursuing your dreams, but not forgetting  where you came from. I love too, the way the author has woven into her narrative the two stars from that era both of whom had difficult early lives.

My Daddy is a Silly Monkey / The Dictionary of Dads

My Daddy is a Silly Monkey
Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson
Otter-Barry Books
A little girl shares with readers, the characteristics of her dad, likening him first thing in the morning, to a huge, yawning, grizzly, grouchy bear. Then as he performs his ablutions, a toothily grinning crocodile …

He becomes octopus-like as he texts, brushes her hair, overturns a chair, burns the toast, spills the milk, ties shoelaces and prepares her lunch. PHEW!
His chitter-chatter monkeying around makes our narrator late for school too.
Afterwards though at the pool, he’s a …

And then after a spot of kangaroo bouncing, he turns into a ravenous, tooth-gnashing tiger; after which he still manages to summon the energy to morph into a monster ready to boss, chase, catch and …

Unsurprisingly after all those energetic activities, there is only one thing to do: snuggle up for some well-earned rest having earned the final “just my lovely daddy”.
This adorable, sometimes rhyming, portrait of a single dad is a delight and perfect for sharing with young children, no matter what their family situation.
Carol Thompson’s exuberant, mixed media scenes are at once funny, full of love and at the same time, show a father struggling to cope with the frenetic life of being a single parent of an energetic youngster and managing to stay upbeat and entirely lovable.

The Dictionary of Dads
Justin Coe illustrated by Steve Wells
Otter-Barry Books
Dads come in all shapes and sizes: in this, his debut collection, performance poet, Justin Coe introduces a veritable alphabetic assortment. From Abracadabra Dad to Zen Dad we meet over fifty of the paternal species, the least energetic of whom, surprisingly, is Sportsman Dad: ‘Dad’s favourite sport / On the couch with the baby / Synchronised snoring.

For the most part the mood is upbeat but there are also plenty of reflective, sometimes sad poems too, such as Prison Dad which takes the form of an apologetic letter from a dad to his children. Having acknowledged that he let them down, he says this … ‘Despite my bravado I’m no macho man. // How can I act hard when these guards have got me sewing? / And sitting in my cell, I’ve even started writing poems! / Days go by slowly. I’m lonely and the only times / That I can find to be close to you are in these rhymes.
Totally different, but equally poignant, is Old Dad wherein a snow-haired man and his brown-eyed boy take a walk in the park in late autumn and the man is mistaken for the child’s grandpa. The two collect seasonal souvenirs and as they leave; ‘the boy picks up one last leaf/ a gift for his father. // “Is it mine to keep forever?” / the old man asks. / And this time it is his boy’s turn to nod and smile. // The old man beams with pride, / holds the leaf gently to his lips / and kisses it, / as if this gift were some kind of / golden ticket.
There’s a poem about having Two Daddies and we also meet Mum-Dad – a mum who plays both the maternal and paternal role and as the child tells readers, ‘However wild the weather / She’s got a way to get it done / And I could not have asked for / A better dad than Mum.
My favourite I think though is Storytelling Dad (there are seven S dads) wherein we hear that this particular father actually seems to undergo a metamorphosis to become various characters from The Wind in the Willows, ‘ … But best of all / was when Dad turned into a Toad, / a horn hooting, / toot- tooting, poop-pooping Toad, / Motor-Car Maniac, / menace of the Road.

It’s impossible to mention all the dads that feature in this collection but it’s certainly one I’d want to add to any primary class collection, or to a family bookshelf. Steve Wells’ visual pen-and-ink embellishments are numerous – at least one per spread – and add to the individual reader’s enjoyment.

I’ve signed the charter