Tag Archives: felines

The Miraculous Cat

a catA Cat by Leonard Michaels (Tin House Books, $18.95, 128 pages); illustrated by Francis Lerner, introduction by Sigrid Nunez

“A cat is content to be a cat.”

A Cat is a nicely illustrated re-release of a book originally published in 1999.  The book was written by the late Leonard Michaels, who taught as a Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.  The line drawings for the original and this edition were by Francis Lerner, and they well represent the relaxed yet athletic nature of cats.

A Cat is both an examination of and a tribute to felines.  Each page contains a parable-like statement about the nature of cats, although Michaels noted that we can never truly capture the essence of these creatures: “A cat reminds us that much in this world remains unknown.”

Michaels certainly loved cats: “Looking at a cat, like looking at clouds or stars or the ocean, makes it difficult to believe there is nothing miraculous in the world.”  Cats remain in the present moment, making the most of life.  In Michaels’s words, “For a cat just to live is splendid.”  And cats show us that sometimes it is best to get out of one’s mind: “To be quick as a cat you must not think.”

Cats live on their well developed instincts, “However a cat looks or behaves, it is what it is, a small and intensely serious being, a cat.”

Well recommended for anyone who is willingly owned by a cat.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was received from the publisher.  This new edition of A Cat was released on November 13, 2018.  (Sasha the cat decided this was a great book to sit on top of.)

 

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Cat Bearing Gifts (Audio)Cat Bearing Gifts (preview)

A review of Cat Bearing Gifts: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy.

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A Homer Run

Homer The Cat by Reeve Lindbergh, Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 32 pages)

Any child that lives with an indoor cat is likely to both love and identify with this story of Homer the cat.   Homer’s a contented feline…  Although he does not go outdoors, he’s got toys to play with and birds to watch and is well fed by a nice, quiet lady who lives in a quiet house.   Then one day, as the quiet lady is off at work (at a place unknown to Homer), a window suddenly falls out of its housing and Homer finds himself out in the world.   It’s a place that – to his sensitive ears – is loud and frightening, and no matter where he goes in town, he can’t find the “cozy, cat-size space” that he craves.

Homer visits various locations on his unplanned journey, and has a few near-misses with bad consequences before he discovers  “a quiet building across a quiet floor.”   This turns out to be the public library where his quiet lady owner is reading books aloud to several children.   Quiet lady and Homer are ecstatic to see each other, and the children naturally love seeing and petting the great orange cat.   So Homer decides to make the library his new second home, a plan approved by the library kids as being “purr-fect!”

This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, which will make a fine addition to the library of any young reader aged 4 and above.   The moral of the rhyming tale (or is that tail?) seems to be that no matter what happens, a splendid place to call home can always be found.   This should prove reassuring to any socially nervous young ones.

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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The Big Cat Book

Leo the Snow Leopard: The True Story of an Amazing Rescue, told by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff (Scholastic Press; $17.99; 40 pages)

“Snow leopards by nature are survivors.   They withstand almost impossible conditions – frigid snow, harsh winds, unsteady ground.”

As a very young cat (my humans call me a kitten), I was anxious to read this book about one of my big cat distant cousins.   I look like a small gray-blue-black leopard, and this book’s about Leo, a cool spotted snow leopard.   Like me, Leo was found wandering around without his mother, an orphan.   But unlike me, Leo was located mewing and hungry in the snowy Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan.   That’s a lot higher place than I’ve ever been!

Leo happened to be found by a goat herder, a nice man who gave Leo a new, safe home with lots of goat’s milk to drink.   (I don’t know if goat’s milk is tasty or not.)   Sadly, Leo wound up getting sick when he was just a baby cub – all of seven weeks old – so he was turned over to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) offices in Pakistan.

The WWF veterinarians (ooh, those white-coated doctors scare me) fixed him up, then got the idea of sending Leo to a zoo in the U. S. that was the first to exhibit a snow leopard.   And that was?   Yes, you guessed it, the Bronx Zoo!

Finally, Leo got lucky ’cause he was put in a big natural forest setting at the zoo where he, naturally, chose to stay high up on a man-made cliff.   That is, until he got an enclosure mate – the gorgeous female snow leopard named Shelby.   Leo and Shelby have a  lot of fun together, and they might be thinking about producing some snow leopard cubs.   (I have no idea what the process is for this…)

Anyway, this is a neat-o book for anyone who likes cats, especially the small humans in your household.   A  librarian told me that this book is recommended for young humanoids between the ages of four and eight and/or for those in Kindergarten through grade five.   What does grade five mean?

This book’s filled with four extra pages of information on endangered animals and zoos for the older kids and adults to read.   I read them and found out that I’m not endangered – whew!; but, snow leopards are.   There are only a few thousand of them left on this planet.   Anyone reading this book, human or animal, will realize that we need to save the snow leopards, especially the loveable big ones like Leo.

I’ll see you at the Bronx Zoo sometime, my furry cousin!

I loved this book as much as a bowl of Tillamook cheddar cheese.

Highly recommended.

Sasha the kitten

This children’s book was purchased by Sasha’s dad of the human persuasion.   One of the books in this series, Winter’s Tale: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again, has been made into a motion picture (Dolphin Tale).   Another, Owen & Mzee, was a #1 New York Times bestselling book.

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My Best Friend

Do You Have a Cat? by Eileen Spinelli (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; $16.00; 32 pages)

“A cat who likes to caterwaul is better than no cat at all!”

There’s an old saying that dogs and their owners begin to look like each other.   Well, I may be just a kitten but even I know that’s not true just for dogs…  And this book, Do You Have a Cat?, proves me to be right.   This book shows us – and especially the young humans in the reading audience – that 14 very famous people owned felines (that’s a cat, to you).   And, guess what?   These famous people looked just like their cats and vice-versa!

If you don’t believe me, just look at the swell drawings in this book.   You’ll see that everyone from Cleopatra to Queen Victoria and Charles Lindbergh and Albert Schweitzer and President Calvin Coolidge owned very special cats, all of whom just happened to be the spitting-image of their home owners!   And you’ll learn some very cool stuff, too, like the fact that President Coolidge went on the radio to tell the folks when his cat was lost.   Luckily, for Cal, Tiger was soon found and returned to the White House!

So, I’m a young cat but I know good books.   This one’s as good as a bowl of half-and-half!

Highly recommended.

Sasha (the kitten) Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Geraldo Valerio is the illustrator of this children’s book, recommended for ages 4 through 8.  

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A Furry and Feathered Giveaway

Thanks to Diane S., Munchy has two copies of a new book to give away!   This is Being with Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World by Barbara J. King.   This hardbound release from Doubleday has a value of $24.99 ($29.99 in Canada).

Here is a synopsis of the book:

We surround ourselves with animals, and yet rarely do we truly stop to think about the pull they have on us.   Animals have dominated our lives for tens of thousands of years and continue to rule our existence, but why?   Why do people the world over respond to a cartoon mouse named Mickey?   Why do sports teams name themselves the Bears and the Eagles?   Why does the pet industry thrive even in difficult economic times?   Why are we compelled to share our lives with cats, dogs, fish, snakes, turtles, or any other kind of domesticated creature?

In Being with Animals, King offers answers to these questions and more.   She looks at this phenomenon, from the most obvious animal connections in daily life and culture and over the whole of human history, to show the various roles animals have played in all civilizations.   She digs deeply into the importance of the human-animal bond as key to our evolution, as a signficant aspect of understanding what truly makes us human, and looks ahead to explore how our further technological development may affect these important ties.

King’s fresh look at the human-animal relationship will resonate deeply with animal lovers, the environmentally minded, and the armchair scientist.

Barbara J. King is a biological anthropologist and Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary.   She has studied monkeys in Kenya and great apes in various captive settings.   Together with her husband, she cares for and arranges to spay and neuter homeless cats in Virginia.  (To this, Munchy says Yeowk!)

To enter our giveaway contest to win one of two copies of Being with Animals, you can either post a comment here or send an e-mail with your name and e-mail address to Josephsreviews@gmail.com .   This will count as a first entry.   For a second entry, answer this question, “How is it that an animal has added value to your life and/or to the lives of your loved ones?”  

Munchy will pick the 2 winners at random.   In order to be eligible for this giveaway, you must live in the United States or Canada and have a residential mailing address.   Books will not be shipped to a P. O. box or to a business-related address.   You have until Monday, February 28, 2011 at Midnight PST to submit your entry or entries.

This is it for the “complex” contest rules.   Good luck and good reading!

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A furry, scaly, feathered book giveaway!

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As Cute as a Kitten

Kitten’s Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press; 22 pages; $14.95)

Leaves tumble, Kitten mews.   Porcupine snacks, Chipmunk chews.   Hummingbird sips, Caterpillar munches.   Rabbit nibbles, Squirrel crunches.   Fish gulps, Bear licks.   Deer grazes, Raccoon picks.   Beaver chomps, Frog zaps.   Skunk slurps, Turtle snaps.   Supper waits, Fireside greets.   Door opens, Kitten eats.

This would make a perfect first reader for just about any child.   In Kitten’s Autumn, we accompany a Calico kitten on her very first trip through nature’s wonders during the season known as Autumn.   She discovers other animals, both friendly and fearsome, all of whom are feasting on whatever it is they eat.   This kitten observes them all before returning to her home for warmth and a good meal.

Each double page is meant to illustrate a single sentence in a poem, and children will come to absorb the lesson that there’s a difference between being outside with nature and being inside one’s own home-sweet-home.   The text and illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes (author of Kitten’s Spring) are both cute and charming.   This one’s a winner, by all accounts – especially for curious cats and kids!

Well recommended.

This review was written by Joseph Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.   This book is recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 8.

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Dead Man’s Curve

Cat Coming Home by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow; $19.99; 354 pages)

This latest Joe Grey mystery oozes with picturesque Carmel charm.   Shirley Rousseau Murphy extolls the architectural beauty of her coastal hometown in the thinly veiled story location, Molina Point.   The plot revolves around Joe, Dulcie and Kit – three cats who speak to their pet parents and sometimes unsuspecting people.   The characters in the mystery that the cats solve are a grandma named Maudie, her six-year-old grandson Benny and, of course, the evil doers.   It’s not fair to describe the villains as their identities are the key to the mystery.   Keep in mind that appearances can be very deceiving!

The story opens with a ghastly double murder that devastates a perfectly lovely family.   Benny’s dad, his new wife, her two children, Benny and his grandma are driving up a mountain road on their way to an Easter weekend of relaxation at Lake Arrowhead when a vehicle pulls up alongside them and shoots the dad and stepmom.   Chaos follows as their car tumbles off the road and everyone is tossed about.   After being rescued, Maudie becomes so distraught that she decides to leave her home in Los Angeles, bringing Benny with her to Molina Point, her childhood home.

Joe Grey and his buddies become part of the story when a series of home invasion crimes occur in Molina Point not long after Maudie and Benny arrive in town.   Added to the intrigue is the presence of an older yellow tom cat that lurks nearby and seems to have something important in mind.   Kit is fascinated by this stranger and makes it her business to find out what he’s doing in town.   Kit’s need for a focus in her life seems to be a continuing thread in these books.

The home invasions are targeted at ladies who are home alone.   They are being viciously attacked by intruders, the interiors of their homes are trashed, but not much is stolen.   One of the home invasions happens on Maddie’s block.   To make matters worse, Molina Point’s dedicated chief of police, Max Harper, is being singled out in the local newspaper for failing to bring the crime wave to a halt.   As usual, the cats are quick-witted and fleet of foot as they race around town just a paw or two behind the villains.

Whether the setting for a mystery novel is a big city or a small town, human frailties are usually at the core of the story.   This tale (or tail) is no exception.   Author Murphy does a wonderful job of developing her characters and providing insight into human nature and feline nature as well.   She refrains from rehashing the premise of her Joe Grey series which allows for more action and intrigue.

Highly recommended.  

This review was written by Ruta Arellano.   This book was purchased for the reviewer.

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Stray Cat Blues

Ginger and the Mystery Visitor by Charlotte Voake (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 40 pages)

Readers who are familiar with Ginger the cat will be happy that Charlotte Voake’s latest book is the perfect – or purr-fect – companion to Ginger.   They are the same size with very similar covers, which makes them a lovely set.   The cast of characters has expanded with the introduction of the mystery visitor.   The storyline involves a cat who sneaks into Ginger’s house to eat.   The tale is short and sweet with a built-in message or two.   It offers opportunities for the reader and listener to discuss what can happen when we feed other people’s pets.

The illustrations are charming and full of expression.   Clearly, this is a book to be read aloud to young children.   Later, it will be a good one for practicing reading skills.   Lastly, a grandma or grandpa who is creating a library for the grandchildren can count on Ginger and the Mystery Visitor as a welcome addition.

If we’re lucky, Charlotte Voake will create more books about Ginger.   Highly recommended.

This review was written by Ruta Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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