Today I’m looking at my 3 cats and 3 cat books. Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton, Titanicat by Marty Crisp & illustrated by Robert Papp, and Drawing and Learning About Cats: Using Shapes and Lines by Amy Bailey Muehlenhardt.
I’m afraid my cats have learned too much from my dogs. Now they go for walks with the dogs and me, roll over for me to pet their bellies, beg for hot dog pieces, sleep curled up with the dogs, lick their faces, and even dance with the dogs when I bring in a new bag of dog food. Since the cats are having an identiy crisis, I had to read them some cat stories today.
Splat the Cat from Harper Collins isn’t going to help my cats’ identity crisis, but it was an amusing visual romp. Splat the Cat will appeal to the very youngest readers through kindergarten-first grade, but even older students will enjoy peering through the illustrations to examine details. I tried out the story on kids and cats. The children had fun – interacting, making warning signs, and filling in the unwritten parts of the story. They stroked the paper cover with the raised letters in satisfaction and practiced spelling S-p-l-a-t.
My cats jumped every time I said "splat" and looked at me sideways as if to say, "Give me a break. I’m still chasing that mouse!" Pictured to the left is my youngest purrmeister Maxie AKA Sophia Lauren. She adores the vivid blackness of Splat on every page and knows you will, too.
Splat the Cat lures you into having a closer look because Rob Scotton has slipped amusing intellectual touches into the illustrations. For example, while Splat the Cat is wide-eyed and frightened before his first day of school, his pet mouse just eyes him sideways as if to say, "What’s your problem?" At the very end when Splat is happily beaming while waiting for the second day of school, his pet mouse’s eyes are round and huge at the thought of a repeat school day. (At least that’s MY interpretation).
Other details that I loved: the mouse slippers, the intricate hairs of every cat, the hidden fish shapes and ducks on nearly every page, and the sign for white chocolate mice visible in the butcher’s window on the way to school when mouse can’t see, but blocked by a person when mouse could see on the way home. See, Rob, I’m looking. I do have to ask you, "What’s with the ducks?" I can see children’s lit folks discussing the hidden meanings of the visual creations of Splat. Nice, Rob.
Rob is the author of Russell the Sheep and has a website at www.robscotton.com Rob has a talent for writing short stories that students can successfully read, but that take thinking on two levels to truly enjoy the humor. Splat the Cat is a good title to use for teaching metacognition. Without interrupting the flow of the story, you can still pause at the end of a sentence and let the students ponder why it’s so funny.
One of the greatest things about writing a blog is that you can choose when you want to review titles. I intended to write about Splat in July when it came out, but two of my favorite bloggers Charlotte’s Library and CherylRainfield both wrote wonderfully divergent reviews. It takes the pressure off me so I can enjoy the books and look for new angles of book interaction. Rob has a new Splat coming November 24, 2008 Love, Splat so we won’t have long to wait.
It’s too bad Betsy Bird won’t bring back Hot Men of Children’s Literature because I’d definitely nominate Rob. I’m sure his wife Liz agrees. In the meantime, we’ll just have to transfer our adoration to Splat. My kitten Maxie says you may adore her also and she’ll climb into your lap to purr while you read. Who needs hot men and hot women of lit when you have a purring cat?
You can follow Splat on YouTube, also. Wonder what he’ll be up to next? Will Love, Splat become THE Valentine’s book I need to read? We’ll see.