A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Bette Greene (Summer of my German Soldier) and Dennis Haseley (A Story for Bear).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Esther Forbes (1891-1967), Johnny Tremain.
- In 1973, a lawsuit in Detroit challenges the â€śno girlsâ€ť rule in Little League. Read Catching the Moon: the Story of a Young Girlâ€™s Baseball Dreams by Crystal Hubbard, illustrated by Randy DuBurke, Mama Played Baseball by David A. Adler, illustrations by Chris Oâ€™Leary, and The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane.
- Itâ€™s Paul Bunyan Day. Read Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg and Paul Bunyan: My Story by David L. Harrison, illustrated by John Kanzler.
In the 1930s, an author who called himself â€śOld Possumâ€ť sent his godchildren (Tom Faber, Alison Tandy, Susan Wolcott, and Susanne Morley) a series of poems about cats. Playful, irreverent, and brilliantly written, these fourteen poems (a fifteenth â€śCat Morgan Introduces Himselfâ€ť appeared in 1952) were published in England by Faber and Faber in September of 1939. Fortunately, the author was not your average godparent, but the great modern writer T. S. Eliot. We are celebrating Adopt a Shelter Cat Month in June; no volume has ever made me want to own a cat, possibly even several cats, more than Old Possumâ€™s Book of Practical Cats.
Children ages four and up respond to the cadence and the language, bubbling over with fantasy and fun, long before they can even understand the meaning of the words. Therefore Old Possumâ€™s Book of Practical Cats is ideal for a parent, librarian, or teacher to read aloud; the poems provide equal enjoyment for all listeners. These cats all have distinct personalities; the poems celebrating them introduce readers and listeners to one individual, idiosyncratic cat after another.
The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat;
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat.
If you put him in a flat then heâ€™d rather have a house.
Macavityâ€™s a Mystery Cat: heâ€™s called the Hidden Pawâ€”
For heâ€™s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
Heâ€™s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squadâ€™s despair;
For when they reach the scene of crimeâ€”Macavityâ€™s not there!
In 1982 Harcourt made an edition available with illustrations by Edward Gorey. A signed volume by Gorey always sits near me when I write. No one can make cats more droll or more sinister than he does. As maniacal as these cats look, the humans seem a good deal more bizarre.
The inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Weberâ€™s musical Cats, Old Possumâ€™s Book of Practical Cats can be savored again and againâ€”for its language and charm. If you have a favorite cat or stanza, please weigh in today. I can never chose which creature from this book I enjoy the most. I do know that hours of reading pleasure can be found, for both adults and children, in this slim volume of fifty-six pages, one of the finest volumes of poetry ever written for young people.
Hereâ€™s a page from Old Possumâ€™s Book of Practical Cats:
You ought to know Mr. Mistoffelees!
The Original Conjuring Cat–
(There can be no doubt about that).
Please listen to me and don’t scoff. All his
Inventions are off his own bat.
There’s no such Cat in the metropolis;
He holds all the patent monopolies
For performing surprising illusions
And creating eccentric confusions
And at legerdemain
He’ll defy examination
And deceive you again.
The greatest magicians have something to learn
From Mr. Mistoffelees’ Conjuring Turn.
Away we go!
And we all say: OH!
Well I never!
Was there ever
A Cat so clever
As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees!
Originally posted June 28, 2011. Updated for .