A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Brian Wildsmith (ABC, Saint Francis), and Rafe Martin (The Rough-Face Girl).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Blair Lent (1930â€“2009) Tikki Tikki Tembo, Arkady Gaidar (1904-1941), Timur and His Gang, and the poet George Gordon Byron aka Lord Byron (1788â€“1824).
- The Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, was created on this day in 1946. Read The Real Spyâ€™s Guide to Becoming a Spy by Peter Earnest, illustrated by Suzanne Harper, in association with The International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C.
- Itâ€™s also National Blonde Brownie Day. Blondies are basically brownies without the chocolate. Read The Triple Chocolate Brownie Genius by Deborah Sherman.
Today has been designated Ask Your Cat Questions Day. Most pet owners admit that they talk to their animals all the time.â€śHow are you feeling today, Lancelot?â€ť I just said to my puppy before sitting down.
However, what if you really wanted to communicate with a catâ€”beyond meaningless questions such as, â€śWhy did you bring the dead vole into the house?â€ť Is there a way to become a cat whisperer? In 2000, Jean Craighead George, a woman who knew how to communicate with all things wild, published How to Talk to Your Cat, with illustrations by Paul Meisel. Jean grew up in a family of naturalists. The Craigheads were always doing exciting things: tracking grizzly bears, banding bald eagles, or paddling kayaks down Western white waters. As Robert Kennedy Jr. said in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Childrenâ€™s Book: â€śI thought the Craigheads might be the only family in America having more fun than the Kennedys.â€ť
When Jean began to write her books in 1959 (My Side of the Mountain), she engaged in a type of research far outside the norm in childrenâ€™s books. For Julie of the Wolves, she stayed with a wolf pack in Alaska and allowed a wolf to greet herâ€”he put her face in his mouth. Talk about going the extra mile to get an accurate book. But such dedication was always typical for Jean Craighead George.
Jean begins How to Talk to Your Cat with an exploration of the typical cat personality: they are loners who donâ€™t like company, even other cats, and are generally self-sufficient. Then she traces the origins of Felis Catus, the domestic house cat. â€śIf you speak to your cat first, it probably wonâ€™t speak back. Cats initiate conversation.â€ť Certainly, one of the funniest things about this book is the juxtaposition of real photos of Jean next to Paul Meiselâ€™s illustrations of cats. Readers see Jean saying hello by rubbing the catâ€™s head with her own head. But the book is also filled with illustrations of cat postures, tails, and facial expressions along with great advise. If you want to read uninterrupted, put a brown paper bag on the floor for the animal to investigate; Jean says you will be free to enjoy your book for a long time.
Iâ€™m just grateful that for more than fifty years, Jean Craighead George explained the animal kingdom to children, writing fascinating books, and sharing her wisdom. Today would be a perfect day to let Jean Craighead George communicate with youâ€”about cats or anything else that engaged her in her long writing career.
Hereâ€™s a page from How to Talk to Your Cat:
Originally posted January 22, 2011. Updated for .