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How the Cat Swallowed Thunder

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When Mother Holly leaves to do errands, she warns Cat to behave himself. But faster than a cat can pounce, he is up to his whiskers in trouble! One crazy mishap leads to another, until the little cottage is in a very messy state. Cat is busily tidying up when he hears Mother Holly coming up the path. He spies a tiny piece of corn on the floor and quickly swallows it. But it's no ordinary corn, and suddenly Cat notices that he is making a very ...

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Overview

When Mother Holly leaves to do errands, she warns Cat to behave himself. But faster than a cat can pounce, he is up to his whiskers in trouble! One crazy mishap leads to another, until the little cottage is in a very messy state. Cat is busily tidying up when he hears Mother Holly coming up the path. He spies a tiny piece of corn on the floor and quickly swallows it. But it's no ordinary corn, and suddenly Cat notices that he is making a very curious rumbling sound. . . .

Illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner.

Warned not to get into his usual mischief, Mother Holly's cat tries to tidy up all the mess he has made while she is away.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like the sorcerer's apprentice, Cat has more than he can handle when Mother Holly leaves him in charge of her cottage. To clean up a spill, Cat uses the watering can, but it unexpectedly causes a full-fledged rainstorm; the bellows he uses to fan a fire whip up howling winds; and popping corn produces thunderbolts. Alexander (The House Gobbaleen; the Prydain series) doesn't explain the mysterious occurrences until Mother Holly's return. At that point Mother Holly discloses that she uses her watering can for April showers, her bellows for March winds, etc. Cat is convinced he's going to be punished, until a kernel of corn he has swallowed makes his stomach rumble and his "marvelous song" makes Mother Holly "happy and peaceful"--the story has opened in a time "when the Cat had no purr." Unfortunately, this pourquoi tale of magic and mayhem has such a complicated plot and so many loose ends that a young reader could easily end up as befuddled as Cat himself. Older readers, however, will enjoy Alexander's rhythmical sentences and witty dialogue. Schachner's (The Grannyman) cartoonish watercolors convey the slapstick humor and chaos, but her googly-eyed characters are often less appealing than the background details. Children will enjoy spotting carved owl bedposts, cat nesting dolls lined up on a windowsill and, especially, the two mice who appear on each page. Ages 5-9. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly
Cat has more than he can handle when Mother Holly leaves him in charge of her cottage, as he causes rainstorms, winds and thunderbolts. "Older readers will enjoy the rhythmical sentences and witty dialogue," said PW. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature
Anyone who has ever wondered how and why cats purr will find a fascinating explanation in this book. Mother Holly has always had to keep a close eye on Cat, who is prone to making messes and causing mischief. One day when Mother Holly has errands to run, she gives Cat a list of chores, along with a warning to be on his best behavior, or "it will be so much the worse for you." Though Cat has good intentions, each of his attempts at completing chores ends up a magical disaster--for Mother Holly's house is filled with magic. When Cat swallows a magic kernel of corn, he suddenly has the ability to purr. Lucky for Cat, Mother Holly is delighted with Cat's newfound talent, and the pair settles down contentedly. Children and grown-ups alike will revel in the lighthearted, colorful illustrations and chuckle over Cat's clever antics. 2000, Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Putnam,
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Professed cat lovers Alexander and Schachner have produced a truly charming story that's part fantasy and part fond tribute to their favorite household pet. When the Cat spends a day fishing around in Mother Holly's house instead of cleaning it up according to her instructions, he stumbles onto all kinds of trouble: her watering can becomes a rainmaker, her bellows generate a furious wind, and her popping corn rumbles like thunder. It seems he can't touch anything without creating a meteorological maelstrom within the woman's four tidy walls. Frantic to cover his tracks, Cat successfully cleans up his various messes, save for one small kernel of corn. Panicked, he pops it into his mouth, ingesting with it a muffled rumbling sound that Mother Holly loves, resulting in the first cat to purr. Alexander's original folktale evokes Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories while turning Aesop on his familiar head; in the end, the only life-lesson the Cat learns is that he can charm his way out of any predicament with the right kind of spin control. Coupled with Schachner's homespun, crazy-quilt illustrations-everything in Mother Holly's house is stuffed with down and stitched by hand-the result is pure enchantment. Children will enjoy this book when read aloud as much as they will when they curl up with it on their own.-Catherine T. Quattlebaum, DeKalb County Public Library, Atlanta, GA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An original pour quoi tale explaining why cats have the ability to purr, pleasing both themselves and their owners. The crafty feline in this story, Cat, is a lazy, mischievous sort who lives with Mother Holly, an incarnation of Mother Nature who has special responsibilities for all the creatures of the earth. While Mother Holly is tending to her business away from their cottage, Cat ignores his chores and disobeys the rules of the house, only to be met by mysterious forces of nature: an indoor rainstorm, whirling winds, flying popcorn, and a blizzard of both goose feathers and snowflakes. By the time he's cleaned up all these natural disasters, the cottage is tidy except for one last unpopped kernel of corn, which he swallows in haste, causing that magical rumbling sound inside him, like thunder about to explode. Alexander's (Gypsy Riska, 1999. etc) story has the ring of a traditional tale, but it's Schachner's (The Grannyman, 1999, etc.) bold illustrations that make Cat spring to life, with several double-page spreads of the cat pouncing, leaping, or standing on his head. The oversized format and lively story line make this a fine read-aloud for a group, although there are also tiny hidden details (including a pair of miniature trouble-making mice and a portrait of Alexander on the wall) that will reward those who read the book one-on-one with a child. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142500033
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/24/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.76 (h) x 0.13 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2010

    cute story for younger children

    Lloyd Alexander is the award-winning author of many books for young people, including the excellent Prydain Chronicles, consisting of five books. I was a little disappointed when he endorsed Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, based on and drawn from the children's Wizard of Oz stories by L. Frank Baum. I read a portion of Wicked and found it absolutely disgusting and perfectly dreadful. It is certainly NOT for children, and I question whether it is fit for adults as well. However, all of Alexander's books that I have read present no problems that I have ever seen. This one is about a cat which is warned by Mother Holly not to get into his usual mischief and tries to tidy up all the mess that he has made while she is away. It is a "mythological" explanation of how the cat came to be able to purr and is rather cute for younger children.

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