SHARED by: Katherine Grier, Librarian at York Avenue Preschool

My daughter Ruth received a FurReal Kitten named Daisy over the holidays. It purrs, meows and even jumps like a real kitten and it was her absolute favorite gift. We have been having so much fun with Daisy that I decided to write about some great new picture books featuring cats this month. Enjoy!—Miss Katherine—York Avenue Preschool’s Librarian

“Captain Cat” by Inga Moore
Lovers of old folktales are sure to enjoy this engaging story that reads like a classic, but has a modern freshness too. The book has a depth that continues to surprise and delight throughout. It never heads where you expect it to, but is completely satisfying all the way to the end.

In the story, Captain Cat is a trader who is not very good at making profitable deals. Instead of trading for riches, he trades for cats. His ship is full of them. In fact, he has more cats on his ship than he has sailors. All of the other traders make fun of him for this, but Captain Cat is so happy with his life, he doesn’t care. One day, Captain Cat decides to head off and see new places. On the way, he is caught in a bad storm that blows him off course to a remote island that is ruled by a little-girl Queen with a big problem. Her island is overrun with rats and there are no cats there to get rid of them. Captain Cat’s furry companions quickly come to the Queen’s aid and she is so thrilled she begs Captain Cat to let her have them. He leaves his cats with the Queen and is rewarded with pearls, rubies and other riches. He then returns to his home port. When all the other traders there see his treasure, they immediately set sail for the island greedily determined to get their own share of wealth from the Queen. They give her a bike, oil paints and rich silks which she makes into “ra-ra skirts”–If you look carefully you can see the queen’s white skirt change colors on each page into a rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, purple and pink ones. You will laugh when you see the “special gifts” the Queen finally presents to the traders in return for all of these things!

And what happens to Captain Cat…? After continuing to sail the seas, he returns to the island to live with his cats and the Queen. A purr-fect happily-ever-after ending for all!

Captain Cat

“Dream Friends” by You Byun
This touching debut picture book is a wonderful tale about transitioning to new situations and making new friends. The main character, Melody, is a shy girl who is having a lot of trouble making friends in her new school. To compensate for this, Melody dreams up an imaginary friend in the form of a large white cat with whom she plays and dances. Although Melody tries hard to lure and coax her mythical cat friend out of her dreams and into her “real-life,” she is unsuccessful. Then one day while she is dancing with her cat, Melody hears another girl asking if Melody will teach her the dance she is doing. Melody opens her eyes and begins showing the girl her dance. Soon all the other kids in the playground join in the fun, too.

While this book is short enough for a story time, I think the beautiful pastel illustrations warrant a closer one-on-one reading for sure. The dream-like quality of these illustrations, supplemented with patterns of stars and swirls, add perfectly to the wonder of the story. My favorite illustration is the very first two-page spread. Its representation of entering a dream via a spiral staircase is absolutely grand.

Dream Friends

“City Cat” by Kate Banks
There is not an elaborate plot in this picture book, but it is a fun way to introduce young kids to European geography. The pictures are charming and the maps in the front and back cover make it extra fun!

The simple story follows an adventurous stray cat named City Cat who stows away with an Italian family as they take a sightseeing tour of various European cities. While the family visits London, Rome, Marseille, Barcelona and other great cities, City Cat surreptitiously tags along, hitching rides on a bus, boat, train and bicycle. The illustrations show him at various historic landmarks for which each city is known and even if you and your children do not recognize all of the places, you will have lots of fun spotting City Cat as he leaps from rooftops, romps through ancient ruins, consorts with gargoyles and much more. Bon Voyage!

City Cat