Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat


On a pale gray night
with a bright full moon,
Witch is preparing for a bash.
She asks her cat
for a little help,
but Cat's too busy chasing Rat
or eyeing Bat
or ...

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On a pale gray night
with a bright full moon,
Witch is preparing for a bash.
She asks her cat
for a little help,
but Cat's too busy chasing Rat
or eyeing Bat
or stalking Ghost.

And all we can say to that

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Safe to say, pet owners should think twice before sharing Berry's (Duck Skates) rhyming suspense story, which cheerily bounces to its foretold conclusion. This tale's "contrary cat" has better things to do when Witch hosts a party. As gnomes and skeletons arrive, " `Cat,' said Witch, `fetch me a chair!'/ But Cat was busy, eyeing Bat./ `Cat?' said Witch./ `Purr?' said Cat./ `Chair!' said Witch./ `Grrrrr,' said Cat./ And that was the end of that." This pattern repeats, with the wicked Cat stalking guests and an in-house Rat, rather than bringing a cup to serve punch or sweeping up afterward. In his picture book debut, LaMarca depicts the haunted rumpus in pen-and-ink illustrations that emit the weird and wild energy of a Betty Boop cartoon. Witch shakes her fist and jumps up and down in vexation with Cat, and readers begin to dread her wrath. Ultimately she needs a toad for a potion, and with no real toad available, she makes a substitution in the recipe. Berry's pseudo-Victorian title and LaMarca's memorable illustrations allude to Edward Gorey (who himself was inclined to skewer "Gashlycrumb Tinies" in his lampoons of children's books), but the only mystery is how the predatory, ill-mannered cat will meet its end. Although presented as a lightly frightful comic, this still places a low value on animal life. Dan Yaccarino's Birthday Fish offers better advice on appreciating pets' natural idiosyncrasies. Ages 3-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
With terrifically detailed illustrations done in pen-and-ink and just a bit less scary than those of Edward Gorey, this story of a cat who is too independent for her own good offers some chuckles and provides a surprise ending. In a towering house set near a graveyard and backlit by a full moon, Witch dresses for a party. " 'Cat,' said Witch, 'Fetch me a hat!' But Cat was busy, chasing Rat." Cat refuses to do Witch's bidding. "And that was the end of that." As Witch welcomes her guests, including Ghost who is nicely done up in pearls, she asks for more help but Cat refuses; "And that was the end of that." Throughout the book, Witch asks for help and Cat, as cats are wont to do, ignores her requests. As Witch brews a spell, she makes a last request, but Cat is happily napping. And Witch takes care of that. How? That's the surprise.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-As Witch prepares for and hosts a party for ghosts, trolls, bats, spooks, and sprites, she asks Cat to fetch things to assist her. But the contrary feline is too busy chasing guests to help. The rhythmic text echoes Witch's plaintive requests and Cat's upturned-nose refusal ("`Cat?' said Witch./`Purr?' said Cat./`Chair!' said Witch./`GRRRRR,' said Cat./And that was the end of that"). Finally, at the end of the night and of her wits, she conjures up a last spell that needs a toad. When the feline won't fetch one, its final "GRRR" ends up as "rribbit?" Rendered with simple lines and crosshatched patterns, the black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations convey plenty of action and humor. The pictures are full of small details, and the gently spooky characters are loaded with personality. Children will appreciate the tale's amusing predictability and will love chiming in with Witch and Cat as a call-and-response. A perfect choice for Halloween and for group sharing.-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Few creatures can flaunt disdain like a contrary cat, and this rhyming tale of a test of wills between Witch and her pet proves it. Witch is dressing for a bash: " 'Cat,' said Witch, 'fetch me a hat!' But Cat was busy, chasing Rat." For each of Witch's requests-chair, hat, fife, cloak, broom and toad-Cat is busy pursuing Bat, Ghost, Troll, Spook and Gnomes. "DRAT THAT CAT!" As the tale and tail become more tangled, comeuppance for Cat is within paw's reach, ending in a surprise transformation. The real cat's meow here is the exaggerated black-and-white, pen-and-ink illustrations that portray every wart, gremlin and eerie monstrosity with delicious delight. Reminiscent of Boris and Natasha cartoons, the melodramatic mockery is made for multiple readings with chants for joining in. No pussyfooting around, this is an out-and-out outlandish, original opus of pure fun and witchery that will have kids spellbound. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416902119
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 8/8/2006
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynne Berry has published numerous poems in Cricket and Ladybug magazines, and she is the author of the picture books Duck Skates, The Curious Demise of the Contrary Cat, What Floats in a Moat?, and Pig and Pug. Lynne lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Luke LaMarca is an illustrator. His first book was The Curious Demise of the Contrary Cat by Lynne Berry. He lives in Maryland.

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