story by Lisa Wheeler and art by Ponder Goembel
A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006
I have an adorable picture book for you! This is how it starts out – “On an island/in the ocean,/ near the land of Singapore,/midst a storm of great proportion,/ fifteen cats were washed ashore.” There were 7 kittens and 8 adults – a calico tom named Mittens (who has muscles and an anchor tattoo), a Persian Blue, an angora, a bobtail, a beat-up tabby, a pair of Siamese cats, and an orange marmalade. They all must band together if they are to survive on a tiny island in the ocean. At first they look for help to rescue them and then decide they’re on their own. Will they be able to survive? Will they even be able to get along with each other?
The illustrations are absolutely adorable and the story is told via rhyming poetry. The print is large enough for early readers to enjoy; there are so larger words that may be difficult at first but every reader needs their vocabulary expanded!
I loved this book – it’s got everything you could want – cats, cats and more cats – plus kittens!; an adventure at sea; a lesson on how to get along with the ones around you and that family doesn’t always mean the folks you were born to!
I pulled these images off the internet – they aren’t very good quality – but let that encourage you to check the book out at your library!!
Toto the Tornado Kitten
Illustrated by Carol Ruzicka
What a sweet book! It brought tears to my eyes – especially when Toto looks out the window and misses his old home in the woods and his mother. Sometimes I can see my cats looking out the window and wonder if they miss the Wild, too.
Here’s the gist of the lovely picture book. Toto is born to a very pretty mom and has siblings and they all live in a field and in some woods and are very happy. Then one day a big storm called a ‘tornado’ – that’s sort of a ginormous funnel-shaped cloud that hops and skips around on the ground. There’s lots of wind surrounding it and wherever it touches down it destroys everything. Well, this tornado came through the woods where Toto lived with his family and tore the woods up and the poor kitten ended up in a tree! He was eventually rescued, nursed back to health and found a new, forever home with humans. True story!!!
The illustrations are sweet and painted in expressive colors. The print is large enough for the earliest readers but it also makes for a good story time book. Children need to start out early learning how important it is to be kind to animals and this book is a good way to start that lesson.
Oh Toto! Where Did You Go?
Illustrated by Carol Ruzicka
In this book Toto is now an adult kitty and one day he decides to go on a walkabout to visit friends. He has catnip tea for breakfast, visits the bank to make a donation to the local shelter, the firefighters at the local fire station, a nursing home, an elementary school, a tv station and more! He has such a full day and finally realizes that home is best.
This book’s story is written in ryhme which makes it extra charming. The illustrations are beautifully detailed so that they convey the story without reading. Very pretty.
We loved both books and that 100% of the proceeds of the books goes toward animal rescue shelters, including the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Toto has his own Facebook page which is HERE.
As a result of his rescue, Toto became famous and travels from place to place meeting and greeting humans and teaching them to be kind to animals.
Rating for both books:
Reserved for the Cat
An Elemental Masters Novel
Daw Books, 2007
Ninette, a young dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet is let go for being too good and upstaging the company’s star dancer. Destitute in turn-of-the-20th-century Paris could only mean prostitution for unless she can go to work for another dance company. Unfortunately she is unable to find work, so having nothing else to lose, she follows the instructions of the tabby cat she has been looking after. The cat, Thomas, is able to communicate with her through thoughts and guides her to Blackpool, England where, through a series of magical events, hard work and a bit of lying, she becomes known as the Russian prima ballerina, Nina Tchereslavsky. Unluckily for her and the magicians (aka Elemental Masters) she attracts the attention of the real Nina Tchereslavsky, who comes after Ninette with a pure evil vengeance.
This book has a lot going for it – sympathetic protagonist, talkative cat, handsome magicians all around and a thoroughly evil enemy. So I thought I would love it – but I didn’t. It feels as if the book—the story–,wants to be special, wants to be amazing and wants to be outstanding but doesn’t quite meet the mark. I’m not quite sure why – maybe it’s all the extraneous detail of some characters and virtually no detail in others. Maybe because the villain tries too hard to be evil. Maybe it’s the magicians, supposedly masters of their craft, are duped by the evil all the way through the book and spend most of the time talking about how they’re going to get the villain without ever having actually doing it. Maybe when the magicians perform their magic, the reader is in another room with Ninette for her own safety. And maybe it’s when Ninette actually defeats the evil – with virtually no help from the magicians, she gives all the credit to Thomas the Cat, because, “What knight in shining armor likes to turn up to discover the princess has rescued herself and slain the dragon?” That really bugs me. I could understand that statement if the book was published in 1957 but it was published in 2007, for goodness sake!!
Anyway, I really want to give the book a rating of 2 out of 5 daisies, but it wasn’t that bad. The story was a good one, and the author did try. Instead, I’m giving it a rating of 3 out of 5 daisies. Middle-of-the-road score for a middle-of-the-road book.
A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology
Drawings by Wendy McNaughton
As the book opens the author has just been involved in a horrific plane crash and wakes up in the hospital. When the doctors say that her tibia and fibia are broken and her ankle is crushed like potato chips all she can think of are her cats ‘Tibby’ aka Tibia and ‘Fibby’ aka Fibia. She spends many months recovering and during that time Tibby disappears for 5 weeks. She is not only in a lot of pain and severely depressed due to her injury but when Tibby goes on his extended ‘walkabout’ she is heartbroken. One day Tibby does come back and is none the worse for wear – in fact, he has actually gained weight. This piques the curiosity of the author and her girlfriend on “Where has Tibby been?” Through a GPS device small enough to fit on the wandering feline’s collar as well as other high- and low-tech ways they learn that her cat is not at all what he seems to be.
Thoroughly engaging and funny, the book is illustrated with adorable drawings. The author pokes fun at herself throughout the book and I laughed at her antics of searching for knowledge of the feline brain. If you love cats, this is the book for you. If you don’t love cats, then after reading this book, you will love cats. As the author says, “Sooner or later everyone becomes a cat lover.”
The True Tails of Baker and Taylor
The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town…and the World
Jan Louch with Lisa Rogak
Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2016
We love books about cats and this is book is no exception. Baker and Taylor are two Scottish Fold cats who were welcomed into the loving arms of the County Public Library in Minden, Nevada. The author, Jan Louch, was their primary caregiver but they were well loved by the many people they met and by many more thousands they never met.
Their story starts with a new library building that was built next to a “highway for field mice” and the librarian and Jan thought of bringing in a cat to help keep the mice away from the precious books. They chose a Scottish Fold whose name was McLean’s Clint Eastwood but eventually changed it to Baker, after the company who supplied the books for the library (Baker & Taylor). They had their hearts set on a second cat and with a little bit of serendipity, another cat, Taylor, joined them. From there the cats, the library and Ms Louch began a 15-year journey that would be life-changing for many hearts.
I truly loved this book; it is very well written, transitioning between life before, during and after the cats. There is a lot of funny–laugh-out-loud antics of Baker and Taylor as they claim their kingdom. There is heartwarming—Mr. Figini’s story meant a lot to me. And, without a doubt, as with any true story of cats and, because all good things must end, there is sadness. I admit to shedding a few tears over the passing the beloved Library Cats. But please, don’t let that dissuade you from reading this book. True Tails is a combination of all the things I love in a book – a great story, deeply felt emotions, characters I fall in love with and above all, heart-lifting.
Disclaimer: we received this book free to read and review. However, that did not influence our opinion of the book.
This review is posted on Library of Cats book review blog as well!! It is written under the non de plume “Jack.”