Come Meet Muffin!

Overview

When the Smith family rescues Muffin on the side of a country road, he appears to be a typical lost kitten in search of a home. But little Lily Smith soon discovers that this watermelon-loving, peanut-butter eating new friend is no ordinary kitty!

Muffin sits at the dinner table, enjoys lettuce and rye crackers, and keeps a protective eye on the other cats in the family. One chilly winter morning, Muffin notices two lost fawns outside Lily's bedroom window. Determined to be ...

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Overview

When the Smith family rescues Muffin on the side of a country road, he appears to be a typical lost kitten in search of a home. But little Lily Smith soon discovers that this watermelon-loving, peanut-butter eating new friend is no ordinary kitty!

Muffin sits at the dinner table, enjoys lettuce and rye crackers, and keeps a protective eye on the other cats in the family. One chilly winter morning, Muffin notices two lost fawns outside Lily's bedroom window. Determined to be helpful to others, Muffin heads out into the forest to deliver the fawns back to their mother. Hooting owls, grumpy squirrels, and chirping chickadees are encountered along the way, until Muffin realizes he has roamed very far into unfamiliar surroundings. The resourceful cat learns that he must rely on his own ingenuity to get himself out of trouble and back into the warmth of his cozy home.

In her first children's book, Joyce Carol Oates pairs playful prose with the exquisite naturalistic oil paintings of Mark Graham. Engaging and atmospheric, this charming tale is one that children will want to hear again and again.

In helping two fawns find their mother in the woods, Muffin the brave cat becomes lost himself and must try to find his way home again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Oates makes a false step with her first children's book, a strained tale of a kitten found by the side of the road. At the urging of their daughter, Lily, the Smiths take Muffin home, where he is "welcomed" by their two other cats. The tone, unfortunately, is condescending ("Muffin is a special kitty who came to live with the Smith family," Oates begins), and the writing cumbersome, especially during the frequent shifts in point of view: "But Muffin always let the other cats eat first, especially little Christabel because he loved her the most. Christabel, however, who was very pretty, with orange, white, and dark markings, sometimes hurt Muffin's feelings by ignoring him." The hero lives up to his description as "special" one snowy morning, when he jumps out a window (which is open, despite the season) to lead two lost fawns into the woods where he manages to locate their mother (who "thanked Muffin for his help"). Oates further taxes narrative logic when Muffin, who isn't sure how to get home, climbs to the top of a tall evergreen, from which he spots his house, miles away, and concludes, "I was never lost, really. My house was always there." Far more convincing are Graham's (The Dream Jar) softly focused oil paintings, which offer realistic renderings of Muffin and the other animal characters and convey the love between Muffin and the Smith's angelic young daughter. But the warm, atmospheric art doesn't make up for the thin, precious narrative. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Tammy Cullers
Muffin the kitten has been adopted by the Smith family. He likes to sit at the table and eat watermelon and rye crackers with the children. Muffin enjoys running and playing with the other kittens in the clan, but most of all, he loves Christabel, the little orange and white cat with dark markings. She likes Muffin, but sometimes she hurts his feelings by ignoring him. One snowy morning, Muffin discovers two fawns in the yard. He realizes they have been separated from their mother, so he sets out on a mission to return the lost babies to their home. His journey is made perilous by frozen brooks and slippery hills, but he eventually locates the doe and reunites her with her little ones. His successful return earns him a hero's welcome, which includes dinner with the Smiths and, most importantly, a kiss from Christabel! This beautifully illustrated book tells a story of love, loyalty and courage in a style that is both simple and charming.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880015561
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 10.57 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates
In a prolific and varied oeuvre that ranges over essays, plays, criticism, and several genres of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has proved herself one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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