Catfish Kate and the Sweet Swamp Band

Catfish Kate and the Sweet Swamp Band

by Sarah Weeks
     
 

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Catfish Kate and her all-girl band liven up the bayou with their rockin’ tunes, but the Skunktail Boys are demanding a little peace and quiet. The boys want to read. The girls want to play. And the swamp’s not big enough for the both of them! Or is it? A rhythmic read-aloud about the power of compromise from bestselling author Sarah Weeks. Catfish Kate

Overview

Catfish Kate and her all-girl band liven up the bayou with their rockin’ tunes, but the Skunktail Boys are demanding a little peace and quiet. The boys want to read. The girls want to play. And the swamp’s not big enough for the both of them! Or is it? A rhythmic read-aloud about the power of compromise from bestselling author Sarah Weeks. Catfish Kate is a pure swampy delight, full of sass appeal for crooners, rockers, and readers alike.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Rocking out on her banjo, the bodacious Catfish Kate gradually adds members to her band ("Hum strum/ rattle-rattle/ tootle-ootle croon/ scritch-scratch/ zing zang/ underneath the moon"). But conflict arises when the girls' music interrupts the quiet that Skink and his Skunktail Boys need for reading. Smith (See How They Run) adds plenty of comical visual details to his cartoonlike illustrations of the swampy nocturnal setting-flashlights attached to branches allow the skink and skunks to read, while band member Spider hangs by a thread to "scritch-scratch" a record. The rhythm of the narrative stumbles briefly when Weeks (Bunny Fun) sets up the feud, which escalates until "Kate said, 'WAIT! There has to be a way/ for you to have your quiet, while we still get to play./ We have to find a compromise,/ that's what we need to do.' " A skunk asks, "What's a compromise?" but Weeks defines the term only by example-cattail fluff as earplugs lets the two groups coexist peaceably. Weeks's morality tale has bounce, but kids may remain confused about what a compromise entails (besides plugging one's ears). Ages 4-8. (May)

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Children's Literature - Dianne Ochiltree
Catfish Kate and her all-girl Sweet Swamp Band fill the bayou with a little bit of "hum strum," "tootle-ootle croon" each moonlit night. It is noisy fun for most of the swamp folk, but for a few—like Skink and his Skunktail Boys—it is not music to their ears! The boys need a quiet spot to read, the girls need to play, and the bayou is not big enough for the both of them. What should they do? Skink and the boys declare war and it is a new song everyone's singing…"squabble, squabble, stomp!" It is not a pretty tune at all. Kate comes up with a clever way to compromise, and thus, a happy ending is in store. I won't spoil the surprise for you, but the very win/win answer was inspired by the phrase, "stuff it in your ear." This is a rhyming tale, and, for the most part, the rhythm and rhyme bounces along quite nicely. Weeks uses alliteration and onomatopoeia skillfully. The message, of using cooperation and compromise in conflict resolution, is presented in kid-friendly terms: no preaching or teaching here. The illustrations are stand-outs: very loose and expressive, contemporary in their exaggerated lines and forms but very subdued in palette. It would have been easy to have gotten carried away with color in a book like this, but the restrained colors on the page are the perfect way to depict a bayou or swamp by the light of the moon. This is a charming text that will likely become a favorite that must be read again and again. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3

"Hum strum/rattle-rattle/tootle-ootle croon./Sweet swamp music underneath the moon." Catfish Kate is playing her banjo with her friends Snake, Newt, and Skeeter, but Skink and his Skunktail Boys complain. They have come to the swamp to read and they want QUIET! When the two arguing groups reach an impasse, Kate calls her girl band away to search for a compromise. The Skunktail Boys think they've won but wait! Kate has an ace up her sleeve, and all ends well: "Happily ever after/underneath the moon." The text is short and rhythmic with many noisy sounds, and the colorful cartoon illustrations burst with lively motion. Although there are various other "band" picture books, some also with onomatopoeic sounds, this rhyming romp emphasizes the importance of compromise. It would be a good jumping-off point for a discussion on conflict resolution as well as just a fun read-aloud.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Kirkus Reviews
When Catfish Kate plays her banjo in the moonlight, the sky fills with giant musical notes and the girl musicians of the swamp chime in. Page by page, Kate's band expands as newt, snake, bugs and gator, sporting gender-identifying ruffles, gather to jam: "Hum strum / rattle-rattle / tootle-ootle croon / scritch-scratch / zing zang / underneath the moon." Unfortunately, Skink and his Skunktail Boys have come to the swamp that night to read quietly (The Nose Knows and Stinker Belle), and the "tootle-ootle croon" does not charm them. When a "squabble, bicker, differ, feud" ensues, Catfish Kate proposes a compromise ("Psst, what's a compromise? I don't know, do you?" asks one skunk). She angrily suggests that the Skunk Boys stuff cattail fluff in their ears to muffle the "noise" of her sweet swamp music, they calmly acquiesce and peaceful coexistence is thus achieved. While the story feels slight and the resolution oddly one-sided for a book about compromise, Smith's visually cacophonous, roughly hewn watercolor-and-ink cartoons are nothing if not energetic, and the singsong rhyme will have swamp toes a-tapping. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416940265
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
05/19/2009
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,317,719
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah Weeks has written more than forty picture books and novels for children and young adults, including If I Were a Lion and Two Eggs, Please. She lives in New York City. Find out more at sarahweeks.com.

Elwood H. Smith is the illustrator of The Truth About Poop and Gee Whiz! It’s All About Pee by Susan E. Goodman. His illustrations have also appeared regularly in the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York. Visit his website at elwoodsmith.com.

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