As a follow-up to my non-fiction book on big cats last week, Leo the Snow Leopard, I wanted to review one of my favorite fictional picture books about little cats.
Written by Marsha Diane Arnold, and illustrated by Jamichael Henterly
Published by Dial, 1995
Ages: 3 – 7
Availability: Out of print, but still readily available – it will be released as an e-book in a few months time!
Themes: cats, tigers, self-confidence, India, perseverance, naming ceremonies
The story has a hint of LITTLE BO in it, as the premise is about Naming Day and the runt of a litter of kittens. Our protagonist is Number Four in a litter of street cats. As Naming Day approaches, he fears he will not be able to discover the name that truly fits his strong, inner convictions, rather than his ordinary, outward appearance. He undertakes a journey of courage, determination and wisdom beyond his years, to discover his name. He journeys into the Indian forest hoping to learn from “the Magnificent One”, the great Bengal tiger. Though initially rebuffed by the tiger, Number Four’s persistence and cunning prove invaluable to the great hunter and the young cat returns to the Naming Ceremony, with a fair and honest name.
Why I like this book:
I was unsurprised to read that the author had consulted with a professor of India Studies at Sonoma State University, for this book is steeped in an authentic Indian feel. The warm, watercolour illustrations evoke with ease the heavy, steamy flora and fauna of an Indian jungle. Don’t miss the hidden tigers among the illustrations. Despite the ridicule of the Bengal tigers, our little runt perseveres and proves himself strong and brave. I love stories that empower children and encourage them to be true to themselves and their uniqueness – this story of a small kitten with big dreams does just that.
On her website, Marsha has a super list of activities for this book.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.