Cat Tale

( 1 )


From word to word they find their way, Lillian, Tilly, and William J.

Like this:

They spot some ewes.

They use a box.

They box some ...

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From word to word they find their way, Lillian, Tilly, and William J.

Like this:

They spot some ewes.

They use a box.

They box some fleas.

And flee a steer . . .

First they see, then they do.

The only thing missing? You!

Come join the fun.


Michael Hall's inquisitive cats set out to spend the afternoon snacking and reading, but wind up chasing words, including homophones and homonyms, on a silly tongue twister of an adventure!

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
…a twisty, imaginative story, told in homonyms…the vividly hued and boxy, collage-style digital illustrations, which recall Eric Carle and recent work by Marc Brown, will engross younger readers while older readers catch on to the double meanings.
—Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly
Three cats—euphoniously named Lillian, Tilly, and William J.—try to keep up with some fast-moving wordplay as Hall (Perfect Square) explores verbal puns. The sturdy text is reinforced by blocky illustrations that picture each scene clearly (a necessity given the potential for confusion) and leavened with plenty of humor. Each line ends with a solid, gratifying thump: “They flee a steer./ They steer a plane./ They plane a board./ They board a train.” A huge, blue steer sends the cats dashing into a blobby purple plane. “They plane a board” explains the verb “to plane” with vivid red curls of wood; two cats do carpentry while the third cat talks to a duck in a cap, who turns out to be the driver of the train they board. Even when things break down (“They use a box to steer a steer? No, no, no!”) the puns are never stilted, and Hall’s simple forms and bright colors only complement the verses’ compelling rhythm. It’s a wacky and thought-provoking read-aloud, one that’s likely to become a favorite. Ages 2–5. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates. (Sept.)
New York Times
“Eye-poppingly bright and friendly . . . a twisty, imaginative story . . . [with] ‘read it again’ magic.”
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Bestselling and critically acclaimed author-illustrator Michael Hall (My Heart Is Like a Zoo, Perfect Square) here sends three colorful kitties—Lillian, Tilly, and William J.—on a dizzying romp of word play. In a story constructed from homophones—words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings—the three cats go on a journey and experience a series of brief adventures: "They flee a steer. They steer a plane. They plane a board. They board a train." Linguistic play inspires other narrative playfulness until the "plot" of the story first becomes merely preposterous, e.g. "They train a duck to duck a shoe," and then unravels into complete, openly acknowledged chaos: "They use a rock to squash a berry...! No?! They use a squash to bury a rock?" But the three cats finally get control of their language and their story and wind up with the perfect happy ending: curled up together on an overstuffed sofa, reading a book. Hall's sentences trip lightly off the tongue; his paper cutout creatures delight the eye. Fun abounds from start to finish in this creative circus showcasing the wildly inventive ways we can play with words. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Hall's book of wordplay featuring homophones and homonyms is deceptively simple in appearance but sophisticated in concept. Appealing graphic-style illustrations, printed in brightly colored, textured acrylics on paper cutouts, are set against a white background; geometric shapes can be found in most cutouts and in the shaded painted areas. The story follows three cats-Lillian, Tilly, and William J.-as they set off on a nonsensical word-based adventure. The rhymed text is written in short sentences printed in extra-large type. Nevertheless, in many instances the rapid change in meaning from one homophone to the next presupposes that readers will recognize the difference in each pair of words. For example, "They choose a spot./They spot some ewes./They use a box/to hide from bees./They do their best/to box some fleas." In the midst of the silliness, the cats lose direction, stumbling through even more nonsense in order to get back on track, which allows Hall to demonstrate how he creates the links from one homophone to another. This instructive tale may be more useful in a classroom setting than as a read-aloud.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Hall cleverly plays with homophones in this diverting word adventure. Three curious cats, propelled by their imaginations, bring books to life as they traverse spacious, white spreads. Together they "flee a steer," "steer a plane," "plane a board" and "board a train." Each sentence or scenario offers hints of what's to come. Discerning compositions and a rhyming text further drive the momentum until, alas! The words' many meanings confound these friendly felines. Humorous permutations ensue as the kitties try to untangle their tales. After they successfully "shoo a truly naughty gnu," (it's munching shoes--truly naughty indeed!), things go sadly awry. "They use their paws to rock a squashberry! Rock a squashberry?" Once back on track, they befriend a bear, sail a whale and ultimately find comfort and contentment in words. Digitally collaged illustrations with appealing characters pop from the page. The artwork, simple in its appearance yet interwoven with the text with utmost sophistication, playfully offers the easiest and funniest lesson on homophones possible, inviting repeat readings and likely inspiring continuing silliness. Smart and accessible, charming and witty, this is one for educators and adventurers alike. (Picture book. 3-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061915161
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 685,574
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Hall

Michael Hall loves art supplies, especially pencils, crayons, scissors, and tape. He lives with his family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Michael Hall loves art supplies, especially pencils, crayons, scissors, and tape. He lives with his family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    Good for toddlers

    Nice artwork with vibrant colors.

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