From the fluffy Persian to the sleek Siamese, these fictional cats will capture young readers’ hearts.
Kathi Appelt’s Max Attacks is an uproarious chronicle of crazy cat behavior. Max, depicted by illustrator Penelope Dullaghan as a blue kitty with black stripes and wide whiskers, is a practiced prankster. Over the course of the book, he scales the screen of a window in pursuit of a lizard, chews up a pile of dirty socks, toys with a loose shoestring and topples a bowl filled with fish. Small wonder, then, that by book’s end, this cat is ready for a nap. Appelt tells the story through rhymed lines of verse: “Max’s paws are made for pounces. Max’s legs are built for trounces.” Filled with unexpected perspectives (check out the close-up of Max with his nose pressed against the fishbowl), the illustrations by Dullaghan are colorful and dynamic. No doubt about it: Readers will be mad about Max.
Acclaimed adult author Joyce Carol Oates is also a pro when it comes to writing children’s books, as she proves with The New Kitten. The only cat in the Smith household, Cherie is something of a feline matriarch—mature, with a purr “as loud as a motor” and very territorial. But when a new kitten named Cleopatra arrives in the Smith household, Cherie is appalled as she watches the interloper chase balls, climb the cat tree and play with her food. Yet the Smiths adore Cleopatra. Feeling left out and unloved, Cherie runs into the woods. She follows a bunny, who disappears into a burrow. After she gets trapped in a tree by two fierce foxes, Cherie realizes it’s time to go home—and time to make peace with Cleopatra. Artist Dave Mottram contrasts the two felines in his winning illustrations: Cherie is big and commanding, while Cleopatra has shining eyes and plenty of kitten appeal. This heartwarming story is sure to become a cat classic.
An unlikely pair of critters become pals in Coll Muir’s fun, fanciful Can Cat and Bird Be Friends?. When Cat (big and black, with considerable claws) first encounters Bird (small as a golf ball and just as round), he’s ready for a snack. Yet he’s met with a question: Why do cats eat birds? “I don’t know,” Cat replies. “It’s always been like that.” Forgoing tradition, the two decide to be friends, only to discover that they don’t have much in common. Cat likes to stretch; Bird prefers to fly. Cat grooms himself; Bird would rather bathe in water. They’re about to give up and go their separate ways when Bird mentions a hobby (painting!) that Cat also happens to enjoy. In the blink of an eye, a bond is formed, and the pair are next seen with easels and brushes, working side by side. Muir’s spare yet expressive illustrations perfectly complement this droll narrative of unexpected connection. Here’s to odd couples!
In Caroline Magerl’s lovely Maya and the Lost Cat, a little girl gains a new feline friend. Through her window, Maya spies a cat perched high on a rooftop. She uses every lure imaginable to coax the creature back to safety—to no avail—until she sets out a tin of fish. Then, “Pad pad thump. In perfectly quiet fur boots, Cat came to see—and ate every oily silver morsel!” Maya starts knocking on doors in an effort to locate Cat’s human parents. With a little direction from her furry companion, she eventually comes to a houseboat bobbing at the end of a windswept pier that’s home to Fritz and Irma, who are overjoyed to see their lost friend. Before Maya departs, Cat brings her a special present—a kitten she can call her own. Magerl’s charming watercolor pictures make this title especially memorable.
Never fear—Ghost Cat, written and illustrated by Kevan Atteberry, is nowhere near as eerie as the title implies. A young boy senses the presence of a cat that seems remarkably similar to the one he used to have but has since lost. He can never actually catch the spectral animal, as it is “a quick, dark blur. Here, and then not here,” the boy says. When strange incidents start happening—a bowl crashes in the kitchen; a book falls in the den—it becomes clear that there’s a creature in the house making mischief. Atteberry portrays the trickster kitty as a sleek, blue figure outlined in white. This mystery has a happy ending, as the ghost leads the boy to discover a living kitten, making them a happy group of three. Readers will be intrigued by Atteberry’s whimsical tale of feline love.