Prather’s Pick: Teaching kitty school
I just can’t resist reviewing one more book for the back-to-school season, especially when this week’s picture book is brand new. “Here Comes Teacher Cat,” by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, is published by Dial Books for Young Readers, the Penguin Young Readers Group and is the latest in a series of books about Cat.
The word “delicate” comes to mind when describing the book’s illustrations, because the lines and colors are light, making the resulting pictures very pretty. According to information about the artwork on the credit page, “The art was made with ink and color pencils on white paper, surrounded by hundreds of cats (ink cats!). “
As the book begins, Cat is asleep under his fish-designed blanket. The unknown narrator tries to wake him, because there is an emergency. Cat, who “talks” by holding up signs, says he’s napping. But the narrator insists there is an emergency. Ms. Melba, the teacher at Kitty Elementary, has to go to the doctor, and she needs Cat to be a substitute teacher.
Cat tries to sneak out an open window, but the narrator reminds him that Ms. Melba has helped him out. She even made him a catnip pillow. So, Cat drags himself to school. When he arrives, he tries putting a life-size picture of himself up in front of the classroom. He even tries hiding under the desk, but the pupils, six adorable kittens, find him.
So, what to do? He goes to the classroom closet and drags out some music recorders. Better yet, he gives the kittens other instruments, such as drums and guitars, and begins to strum on a guitar, himself. It’s great fun, but they are too loud for the class next door.
Building something sounds like fun — like a fountain that spouts fish. When Cat finally lets the kittens help, rather than just watch, they finish the fountain and have fish for their snack, too.
Cat is really getting into this substitute thing, so, during art, he decides not to use the little paint sets. He pours red, yellow and blue paint into large pans, and then things really get out of hand. He and the kittens paint the walls, floor and themselves — great fun until they hear Ms. Melba coming. What to do?
This delightful book has a heartwarming ending. I think kids will enjoy it a lot.
Young readers will also enjoy the other books about Cat, including “Here Comes Santa Cat,” “Here Comes the Fairy Tooth Cat,” and others.
“Here Comes Teacher Cat” costs $16.99 in hardcover. It is also available at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.
Stories enrich our lives. We tell them, listen to them, read them, repeat them, write them, watch them on TV, enjoy them in theaters. Stories teach us, entertain us, make us laugh, ease our social situations, and cement our friendships.