Just Imagine talks about….Cats

It was hard to narrow it down, but the Just Imagine team have selected some of our favourite cat books to share with you:

Sam Keeley’s Choice:

I love cats (I have two of my own) and I love reading stories featuring our feline friends with my children. We can’t help but chuckle when we read about the gloriously grumpy faced Mr Pusskins in Sam Lloyd’s picture books. My favourite is when a new kitten, Little Whiskers is introduced in a classic tale of sibling rivalry.
A more recent read is Malkin Moonlight, one of our Year Four Reading Gladiators reads for this year. Malkin is a small black cat who is destined to be a hero. This is such a well written book told convincingly from the cat’s point of view – it will leave you feeling like you understand cats that little bit more.
Atticus Claw is another winner for 7-9 year olds and my daughter’s teacher is reading it to her class at the moment – it’s going down very well!
As lovers of Kes Gray’s Oi Frog! and Oi Dog! books, my son and I have been impatiently awaiting Oi Cat! and we have not been disappointed. Young readers will enjoy the rhymes and the illustrations compliment the text perfectly.
How can we talk about cat books without mentioning Judith Kerr’s wonderful Mog stories? First published in 1972, the egg loving Mog has delighted many generations making us laugh with her antics and cry with her demise.

Caroline Bradley’s Choice:

I am definitely a cat person and have my own furry feline at home, who I watch with particular fascination ever since Cressida Cowell shared the fact that Toothless in the film version of How To Train Your Dragon was based on the animator’s own cat.
As a Librarian it will be no surprise that one of my all time favourite books is Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron . A beautiful, heartwarming true life tale centred around the little cat Vicki found in the book drop box one night and how it changed her life and those of the patrons of her Library in Iowa. The book was originally produced for juniors and infants too. Sadly the picture book is no longer in print in the UK, but the adult and junior versions are still available.
After seeing the West End performance of CATS many years ago, I was an instant lover of TS Eliot’s Old Possums Book of Practical Cats and was delighted when Faber and Faber started publishing the cat’s separate tales unabridged in all their original poetic glory, with Arthur Robins’ great fun illustrations. I am currently enjoying the latest instalment – Jellicle Cats.
A delightful read-aloud from our alternative fairy tales collection is The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, The Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe. The highly frustrated cat trying tirelessly to tell the story of Red Riding Hood is interrupted at the turn of every page by the over excitable dog, who is determined to make Red Riding hood a superhero with gadgets and special powers. The tables turn, however when the cat reaches the climax of the story ‘all the better to eat you…’ and the dog suddenly finds the whole thing highly inappropriate for children! Hilarious and very clever with appeal across the age ranges.
Curating the Information collection here at Just Imagine, I am constantly impressed with the style and format of the more recently published information books both at home and overseas. The Professor Astro Cat’s… series from Flying Eye, is one such example. The fact filled feline, a character young readers can identify with, introduces some weighty science topics from atomic physics to the Big Bang and the universe itself. The retro design and cartoon style make for a very accessible read and having a cat to guide you through just makes it all the more appealing.

Nikki Gamble’s Choice:

There are so many great cat characters in children’s literature and it is hard to pick just a few to share with you.
Who could forget the clever Sid, who outwits all the cat lovers in the neighbourhood by getting each of them to feed and fuss over him in Inga Moore’s classic picture book Six Dinner Sid? I love the way that a cat becomes the focal point for bringing a community together and perhaps also makes us question whether humans can ever truly ‘own’ an animal.
Inga Moore is also the writer and illustrator of my second choice Captain Cat (she must surely be a cat lover).  In this longer illustrated fiction, cat lover Captain Cat has a ship load of feline friends, in fact there are more cats than sailors, and they are great rat catchers. On his voyage he arrives at a remote and lonely island where the queen, a little girl, has never seen a cat. Perhaps Captain Cat will leave her cats behind to help rid her island of a rat infestation? This a lovely, warm story about friendship and family.
My next choice is completely different: Leigh Hobbs’ Old Tom stories. I’m a big fan of Australian illustrator, Hobbs, whose dynamic illustration is reminiscent of the great British cartoonists, especially Ronald Searle.  Angela Throgmorton lives alone and likes it that way. One day she finds an unusual bundle on her doorstep – Old Tom has arrived. Her life will never be the same. Tom may appear to be a naughty child but there is a lot of reciprocal love between these two characters.
For stories in rhyme I have picked Pip Jones’ Squishy McFluff stories – but this may be cheating as Squishy is an ‘invisible cat’. Ava discovers Squishy in the cabbage patch and instantly realises he is her new perfect best friend. For Squishy fans there are several stories in the series, including an encounter with Mad Nana Dot.
And finally, a book that isn’t exactly about cats, but features cat characters. John Masefield’s classic fantasy, The Midnight Folk. This is a story that has stayed in my imagination since childhood. Determined to recover the long-lost family treasure, Kay Harker finds himself in a race against the evil Abner Brown. Abner has his witch friends and his dark magic to help him, but Kay has the very special Midnight Folk including Nibbins the cat, who used to be a witch’s cat but has reformed. Two other household cats work against them, the main antagonist is Blackmalkin, aided by the mysterious Greymalkin, who takes his name from the witch’s familiar in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. If you haven’t read this sequel to a Box of Delights, I strongly recommend it to you, providing you like your stories on the dark side.

Bibliography:

Author Title Publisher
Sam Lloyd Mr Pusskins Hachette Children’s Group
Emma Cox Malkin Moonlight Bloomsbury Publishing
Jennifer Gray Atticus Claw… Faber & Faber
Kes Gray Oi Cat! Hachette Children’s Group
Judith Kerr Mog Harper Collins
Vicki Myron Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World Hodder & Stoughton
T S Eliot Old Possums Book of Practical Cats                                                  Faber & Faber
Christyan Fox The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, The Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe     Arum Press
Dominic Walliman Professor Astro Cat… Flying Eye
Inga Moore Six Dinner Sid Hachette Children’s Group
Inga Moore Captain Cat Walker Books
Leigh Hobbs The Big Book of Old Tom Allen & Unwin
Pip Jones Squishy McFluff the Invisible Cat Faber & Faber
John Masefield The Midnight Folk Egmont