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Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats

Overview

"The Cat and the Fiddle" for a new generation, by bestselling author Barbara Joosse

Old Robert has everything he needs. Nothing more, nothing less. Each and every day, he sails the sea, alone. And each and every night, he docks his boat and prepares his dinner, alone. Until one evening when he gets a very strange visitor: a dancing cat. There's no room in Old Robert's shipshape boat for a cat. But much to his surprise, he finds himself smiling a bit, and inviting the cat in for dinner. The following night another...

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Overview

"The Cat and the Fiddle" for a new generation, by bestselling author Barbara Joosse

Old Robert has everything he needs. Nothing more, nothing less. Each and every day, he sails the sea, alone. And each and every night, he docks his boat and prepares his dinner, alone. Until one evening when he gets a very strange visitor: a dancing cat. There's no room in Old Robert's shipshape boat for a cat. But much to his surprise, he finds himself smiling a bit, and inviting the cat in for dinner. The following night another cat arrives, this one juggling. And once again, Old Robert surprisingly finds himself inviting the cat in to his home. Before long, Old Robert has a boatful of cats, singing and dancing and juggling. He still has everything he needs, but now he has so much more.

Barbara Joosse and Jan Jutte have teamed up again to deliver a story that will dance its way into readers' hearts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Old Robert, the wool-capped captain of a diminutive sloop, lives a quiet, predictable life—“Clean socks/ a clock/ my ship in the slip at the dock./ One dish/ one spoon/ a slice of the silver moon”—until cats show up and ask to stay. First to arrive is a dancing cat, followed by a ukulele-playing cat (“He sang the story of love”) and a spoon-juggling cat. Robert is wary at first (“There was no room in the trim little boat for the cat to live”), but by the time a fourth cat arrives (it “didn’t dance or sing or juggle. It just sat”), love has given Old Robert a family. Joosse’s use of language is as playful as her characters, and Jutte’s jaunty, Hergé-style paintings never fail to cheer. In the end, Old Robert breaks his ironclad rule about not sailing at night and takes off under the full moon. Old Robert’s dilemma may seem remote to some children, but the final sea journey makes a gentle, dreamy bedtime image. Ages 3–7. Agent: Scott Treimel, Scott Treimel NY. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Old Robert sails the sea alone and is set in his ways. But one evening he hears a strange sound. It is a cat, dancing in a pale pink dress, "...light as a whisper, soft as a secret." She asks to come in. He thinks there is no room in his little boat, and yet he says yes. And to his counting rhyme as he goes to sleep he adds "a wedge" rather than "a slice" of the silver moon and "a cat in a wee little hammock." Two more cats in succession perform, make Robert smile, and ask to come in. Each time, in his rhyme, the moon gets larger as more cats are in the wee hammocks. Finally, a tiny, scrawny cat arrives, to sleep on Robert's chest. And this time, as the full moon spills across the sky, Old Robert sails away at night for the first time, an ending to ponder. Cartoon-y characters are created with a felt-tipped pen, watercolors, and acrylic paints. The small space they live in is rich in detail. Jutte uses double-page scenes for the placid seascape and dockside events, but vignettes for some actions. These are anthropomorphic cats; so are the spoon and bowl. All the characters are jolly as they dance, make music, and find sleeping comfort in bed or hammocks. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Old Robert has his life and possessions in perfect order, sailing the sea by day and resting safe in a slip at night. Then one night a cat dancing on the dock asks to come aboard his boat. At first, the sailor is resistant to change but gives in. Then two more talented cats ask to join him, one playing a ukulele and the other a juggler. As the felines dance, juggle, and play into his life, his routine changes and smiles begin to appear on his face. Finally, Old Robert takes in a black cat without any obvious talent and continues to smile. With the help of his new friends, he changes his lifelong habits and opens his heart to joy. The playful illustrations, created in ink, watercolor, and acrylic, are done in a cartoon style. A song called "Old Robert" can be downloaded from www.doublecake.net for use with the story. This salty adventure will make an entertaining read-aloud.—Janene Corbin, Rosebank Elementary School, Nashville, TN
Kirkus Reviews
Appealing illustrations and a cheerful, rhythmic text turn a (potentially) slight oddity into a quirky charmer. Old Robert is a fan of routine. He sails each day, docks each night, serves himself the same supper each evening and enjoys tallying "the regular things in their regular place." His apparently mundane world, however, includes animals that wear clothes and talk as well as a few that appear to be simply pets. Old Robert makes the acquaintance of three of the former and one of the latter, all cats. Each approaches him, looking for a place to belong. For some reason, the acquisition of the final feline, a small cat with "sea green eyes" spurs Old Robert to eschew his normal habits and set sail at night, below a full and glowing moon. Most listeners, though, won't worry too much about the whys or even the whats. They'll be caught up in the incantatory list of Old Robert's touchstones: "Clean socks / a clock / my ship in the slip at the dock…" and poring over Jutte's crisp, comical pictures, created in ink, watercolor and acrylic. Dream sequences are particularly pleasing, with smiling socks and marching dishes, and the cats are utterly beguiling whether dancing daintily in a pink dress, strumming a ukulele and wearing a green fedora, juggling spoons or simply snuggling. An entertaining voyage of imagination with engaging, eccentric companions. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399254307
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/12/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Joosse lives in Wisconsin.
Jan Jutte lives in the Netherlands.

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