Being a cat: a tail of curiosity by Maria Gianferrari. Illus. by Pete Oswald

cover image

From the start of this book showing how cats behave, children are asked to be like them in seeking, watching, wandering and wondering. Be like a cat and survey all that surrounds you.  Can you search like a cat: looking up and around you? Can you chill out between actions like a cat, and just sit and preen, be happy like a cat, be curious? Lots of things are asked of the reader, using the cat as a template of things to do, asking the child to follow the same ways of seeing the world. Be inquisitive, seek, look around you: all sorts of wonders are there to be seen and explored. Why not search through a drawer, stop and smell the flowers, check out a box (all cats like a box). Cats sleep anywhere, and everywhere. Cats are inquisitive and inspect and inquire, all of course in between a time for preening. Cats say I love you in a range of ways: bunting, rubbing, jumping onto a lap, twisting and twirling.

After pages of what a cat does, and how curious a cat can be, are four pages of information about cats which will intrigue younger readers. A cat’s tail sticks straight up when it is happy, and other gems will have readers longing to get home and check out their cat, or reminisce about their cat with their peers.

And then they may question about how they show they are happy.

The information about the cat forms a  list of activities that kids can follow, it is hoped that children be curious, seek out answers, run and play, jump and twirl, look into things, look around, up and down and so on.

And I love the last page which shows children how hey cna leap like a cat, and gives them meanings for words associated with cats.

All of this is accompanied by endearing illustrations showing a cat and a girl attempting all the things in the text. Oswald entwines lots of humour in his images of the cat, and gives the cat lots of different feelings through the deft lines in its face. He makes the cat look ferocious, happy, dumbfounded, cross, clever, sad, pleased with itself and so on with just a few changes of the eyes and mouth.

Readers will love seeking out how the cat feels, and take in the detail given on each page, along with trying out some of the things the cat does, especially leaping.  

I can imagine classrooms with kids in boxes, preening themselves or leaping about.

Themes: Cats, Action, Leaping, Preening.

Fran Knight