Bittle

Overview

Nigel's a cat who loves to chase mice and scratch rugs. His friend Julia the dog loves treats and bones and sleeping. They don't need anything else...but now they've got Bittle; a baby. When Bittle is brought home, Nigel and Julia have to take charge. There's someone new to worry over...to look after...and maybe even to love.

Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan and her daughter, Emily MacLachlan, team up with artist Dan Yaccarino to create this funny and playful story ...

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Overview

Nigel's a cat who loves to chase mice and scratch rugs. His friend Julia the dog loves treats and bones and sleeping. They don't need anything else...but now they've got Bittle; a baby. When Bittle is brought home, Nigel and Julia have to take charge. There's someone new to worry over...to look after...and maybe even to love.

Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan and her daughter, Emily MacLachlan, team up with artist Dan Yaccarino to create this funny and playful story about a family's newest addition and the secret lives of our very clever pets.

This is a story about a cat and a dog contending with a new baby in the house.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two mistrustful pets grow to love a new baby in this amiable story, pictured from a dog and cat's close-to-the-floor vantage point. Nigel, a fawn-colored tabby, and Julia, a spotted hound, call the interloper "Bittle" because "She's just a little bit of a thing." Due to their suspicion (Julia "moved her bones, one by one by one, to a new hiding place"), the pets monitor the girl closely. Yaccarino, author of the Oswald books, pictures Nigel purring Bittle to sleep and Julia making her smile with a long "Whooooooooo" howl. The three have a lot in common. Like the cat, Bittle enjoys reaching for butterflies outside; like the dog, she has a thing for bathroom appliances (" `I love that toilet,' said Julia"). At breakfast, Bittle "dropped pieces of scrambled egg to Nigel" while Julia "licked cinnamon oatmeal off of Bittle's foot." The MacLachlans (Painting the Wind), a mother-daughter team, imply an animal understanding of Bittle as a noisy creature and of the human parents as simply "the man and woman." They humorously imagine the pets' grudging tolerance turning to bemused affection. Yaccarino's rounded shapes and breakfast-time palette of waffle brown, pancake-batter gold and summery green foreshadow the trio's cozy friendship. The pets, modeled after curious older siblings, are resistant yet nonthreatening, and they soon welcome their new family member with credible warmth. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nigel the cat and Julia the dog lived in a big yellow house and they were very happy. Then one day they noticed a bag full of little socks and booties. A small room in the house was painted pale green. Something was moved into the room. Julia thought it looked like a cage, but Nigel knew it was a crib. A baby was coming. When she arrived, Nigel decided to call her "Bittle." Julia was worried that the baby would change his life, but Nigel seemed quite knowledgeable about babies. Together they began to spend their nights next to the crib. They talked to Bittle and batted her mobile to keep her entertained. Sometimes Nigel crawled into the crib to calm Bittle's crying. As Bittle grew, the three of them became good friends. They played in the garden and chased butterflies. They slept together in the sunlight. Bittle's first words were "Woof," "Meow," and "Whooooooooo!" Large colorful pictures are set in stark white space, clearly illustrating the emerging loving relationship of the animals and the child. A good choice for children with pets. 2004, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins, Ages 4 to 8.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Nigel, a cat, and Julia, a dog, are perfectly happy in their big yellow house-until their owners bring home a new baby. Slowly, the animals warm up to the infant and come to play a big role in her life. They call her "Bittle" (because she's "just a little bit of a thing"), soothe her to sleep at night, and play with her during the day. As the child grows, Nigel and Julia find that they share common interests with her, such as catching butterflies and a fascination with the toilet. Eventually, the pets discover that they have grown to love Bittle. Readers see that she loves them too as the book concludes with her first words: "Woof" and "Meow." Yaccarino's artwork matches the story perfectly. The colors are bright, the lines simple, and Julia and Nigel are clearly the dominant figures of the household. Writing from the pets' perspective, the authors cleverly highlight the changes a new baby brings to a home, and the animals' growing affection for Bittle is humorous and heartwarming. This story speaks to youngsters who have welcomed a new sibling or who have seen how a pet can seemingly become the ruler of a house.-Kelley Rae Unger, Peabody Institute, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Yaccarino's rubbery, boldly distinct figures reflect the vim and humor in this pets'-eye view of a new baby's homecoming. Nigel and Julia-a cat and a dog, respectively-are dubious at first about the new family member heralded by tiny socks and booties and a cage-like construction that Nigel declares is a crib. "The man painted a small room pale green. 'The color of mold,' said Nigel." Yaccarino's perspectives (dog and cat close-ups through bars, baby being by far the biggest thing on the page) help shift the focus from intruder to companion as the four-legged pals "work" at taking care of the baby, sharing her cast-off food, and teaching her to howl. Over time, after adjusting to different sleep habits, even Julia warms to the toddler-whose first words turn out to be "woof" and "meow." Fans of Madeleine L'Engle's The Other Dog (2001) or Peter McCarty's more sardonic Hondo and Fabian (2002) will howl-with laughter-along with this closely knit interspecies trio. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060009618
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan has written several award winning picture books and novels, including All The Places to Love, and the Newbery Medal winner, Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Emily MacLachlan lives near Boston with her husband, two cats, and two dogs. Painting the Wind is her first book.

Dan Yaccarino is an award-winning artist whose work has been featured in magazines, ad campaigns, and animation worldwide. His large-scale paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in galleries across New York City, Tokyo, and Rome. Mr. Yaccarino has written several books of his own and illustrated numerous books by other authors, including I Met a Bear and So Big!. His television show Oswald the Octopus airs on Nick Jr. He lives with his wife, Susan, and their son, Michael Dante, in New York City.

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