Cat Up a Tree

Cat Up a Tree

by Anne Isaacs, Stephen Mackey
     
 

There's a cat up a tree. What could be more familiar? Yet with her astonishing gifts of imagination and language, Anne Isaacs discovers in this seemingly ordinary event a world of cosmic reach -- from the earthy roots and leafy branches of the forbearing tree to the mysterious ginger cat himself, then higher still to the cool, unblinking moon and beyond. Creating a… See more details below

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Overview

There's a cat up a tree. What could be more familiar? Yet with her astonishing gifts of imagination and language, Anne Isaacs discovers in this seemingly ordinary event a world of cosmic reach -- from the earthy roots and leafy branches of the forbearing tree to the mysterious ginger cat himself, then higher still to the cool, unblinking moon and beyond. Creating a rich texture of personalities and possibilities, her story unfolds one poem at a time, ultimately sweeping the reader into a pageant of feline concern from which no one, young or old, cat-lover or not, will emerge unmoved. Does the cat need catching? The fireman and the cat-catcher think so. To the consternation of her father, a little girl wants to take the cat home as a pet. In the sky, a balloon lady drifts by to sing praises to a like minded free spirit; a wary robin sets up an alarm; the mayor tries to organize everyone. And then there's the box-car racer, who couldn't care a white about the cat and only wishes that the crowd around the tree would get out of his way! But of course it's the cat who -- knowing very well why he's up there -- has the last word. Anne Isaacs, author of the Caldecott Honor book Swamp Angel and the highly praised Treehouse Tales, again freshly, brilliantly conceives the read-aloud experience. Effortless changing mood and voice, evoking everyday wishes and secret longings, the poems here cast a rich storytelling spell by virtue of their insight, versatility, and dexterity. Stephen Mackey's lush, color-drenched paintings, tinged with humor, wit, and romance, beautifully partner the text. Achieving a charmed balance between the familiar and the fanciful, the create a pliant, responsive world over which these remarkable verses may preside.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A series of Romantic odes and witty soliloquies inspired by a climbing cat comprises this sumptuous work by Isaacs (Swamp Angel) and British first-time illustrator Mackey. Lush, full-bleed art depicts a rural community as spring blossoms, while each spread offers a poem in a different voice, each addressing one aspect of a cat's adventure up a tree. A girl gives chase, her father runs after her; the fireman is called for, followed by the "cat-catcher"; the robin cries out in fear and warning, and the tree groans in complaint. Isaacs's language can be ornate (e.g., one poem, "Night Rising," begins, "Ancient alchemist, wake! Arise:/ Flood each echoing well with beams"). Elsewhere, she can be straightforward and funny (the fireman confesses, "I'd rather face flames raging out of control/ Than a cat, who's a fire with four legs and a soul"). Mackey unifies the various poems with gorgeous, dreamlike paintings. Various elements such as people walking dogs or passersby appear on the pages with a fresh, spontaneous wit, while the cat is as lyrical visually as he appears in the text. Cat lovers will go wild for this work, as will poets and dreamers. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Cheryl Peterson
What could be more familiar than a cat up a tree? The author creates a story out of this ordinary event+one poem at a time. Each reflects a different point of view: the cat, the girl and her father, the firemen, the robin, the tree, the moon. All tell their story with humor and insight, accompanied by beautiful full-page paintings. A wonderful experience in poetry appropriate for all ages.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Delightful poems that center around a cat that has stranded itself up a tree. Readers hear from the girl who spots him, the firefighter who cannot catch him, the robin who lured him, the tree that abhors him, a passing balloonist who admires him, and others attracted to the scene. The cat itself contributes several poems: contemplating former lives, admiring the night, and such. Isaacs's poems demonstrate a wide range of form and mood, as the individual pieces come together to tell a story. They are wonderfully matched by Mackey's richly colored paintings, presented on striking double-page spreads, which reveal the characters' emotions as they depict an appreciation of landscape and light. A charmer.-Miriam Lang Budin, Mt. Kisco Public Library, NY
Jen Nessel
"T.S. Eliot meets John Donne. . . " The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
In a chronicle of the events surrounding a feline's jaunt up a tree, Isaacs (Treehouse Tales) delivers a bewitching collection of poetry. Through 15 poems, the perspectives of such diverse characters as a practical cat-catcher, frightened robin, indignant tree, melancholy moon, and the sagacious cat are limned. In one, a resigned fireman pays homage to the elusive nature of the cat, "Still, I wait on my ladder and take off my hat/To the prince of lost spaces, the uncatchable cat." The pieces resonate with evocative imagery, as in "The Tree's Complaint": "When in memory did a cat/Produce an apple, plum, or peach,/Perfume the air, or offer you/The only shade upon a beach?" The poems work as stand-alone selections, but are arranged to culminating effect; when the moon laments its doom to "reflect another's fire" rather than "sing one hour in the self-born light," readers will appreciate the sorrow even as they wait to learn what happens next. Mackey's rich illustrations set the opening poems in the verdant beauty of a midday park, then chart the passing of time in the midnight-blue, velvet softness of an evening sky. Combining elements both humorous and mystical, Isaacs sends the cat up the tree and transports readers to myriad worlds.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525459941
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 12.34(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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