Castaway Cats

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A storm, a shipwreck,
an ongoing ocean,
then finally, finally
a deserted isle. . . .
Safety -- but wait!
The fifteen swimmers
braving the waves
are, after all . . . kitties.
They are not into
until, until
on this desert isle
they must.

from the creators
of the witty Old Cricket,
comes a wily, wise
saga of sogginess,
a feline fantasy
about drying off (elegantly),
shaping up (grumpily),
getting along (at last),
and loving it.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Fifteen cats are washed ashore on an island: "Fifteen cats by tempest blown--Seven babes and eight full grown." Organization is essential for survival, since no rescue ships appear. But as they try to build a boat, "...fur begins to fly." Finally, however, they manage to plan and work together. Soon they realize that they are very happy there together and decide to stay. The simple story is made engrossing by the rhythmic verses rich in assonance, alliteration, and description of the cats and their individual personalities. Periodically there is a variation of the song-like refrain that is repeated throughout to the happy ending: "Fifteen cats by tempest blown/ Fifteen cats have made a home." Goembel's acrylics and ink illustrations offer a most attractive mixed cast of naturalistic cats, including striped, long-haired, spotted, and even a twin set of Siamese. The double-page scenes are large enough for all the dramatic--even melodramatic--action, as when the beach becomes littered by half a dozen fur-flying cat fights. Details such as palm trees and piles of flotsam set the naturalistic adventures against the anthropomorphic, almost mythic behavior of the feisty felines. Cat lovers in particular will want to join the final scene of joyous dancing.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-The creative team behind Old Cricket (2003) and Sailor Moo (2002, both S & S) has come up with another winner. The action begins on the front cover as 15 soggy moggies are tossed from their sinking ship. By the time the story starts, they have reached the safety and uncertainty of a deserted island. The cats are of varying ages, breeds, and personalities and must overcome their differences as they attempt to build a boat and return to civilization. However, by story's end, the castaways are no longer strangers; through their adversity, they have become a family, and they choose to stay on the island. This delightful book is told in verses that become smoother as the cats cooperate and find their groove. The cast of characters includes a wisecracking marmalade tom, an angora diva, and a tough alley cat with a heart of gold. Goembel's illustrations, done in acrylic and ink, are fantastic and provide wonderful insight into the side stories developing as the book progresses. This animated, witty book is a wonderful selection to read aloud or for one-on-one appreciation of the marvelous art.-Kara Schaff Dean, Needham Public Library, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"On an island / in the ocean / near the land of Singapore, / midst a storm of great proportion, / fifteen cats were washed ashore." Marooned on an island with just a few coconut trees and a cave, the cats of different species try to get along. They find plenty of food, but their search for rescue ships is fruitless. When they decide to build a raft, everyone has a different idea of how to go about it. After a monumental fracas, they work together to build a beautiful raft-only to decide they don't want to leave. They feel like a family; all choose to call the island (with a suspiciously feline-looking rock formation) their home. The team behind Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea (2002) has returned to the briny with this rhymed lesson in cooperation. Sneaky addition exercises pepper the text: "Fifteen cats me-yowl with woe-/ Nine above and six below." Lapsit listeners can count the nine in the trees and the six on the beach. The story starts on the cover, and cat fans will beg to start again each time the book is closed. (Picture book. 2-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689862328
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
  • Publication date: 6/6/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 683,001
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Wheeler has written eighteen books for children, including The Pet Project, illustrated by Zachariah OHora, and the hilarious Spinster Goose, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. She lives with her family in Addison, Michigan. Visit her online at

Ponder Goembel has illustrated eight books, including two others by Lisa Wheeler, Old Cricket, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and Sailor Moo; A Basket Full of White Eggs, by Brian Swann; and The Night Iguana Left Home, by Megan McDonald. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where the 2005 floods threatened to wash away the nearly finished paintings for this book. Her Web site is

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