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

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.

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.

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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