Senor Don Gato: A Traditional Song


As befits its hero, the song "Señor Don Gato" springs to life in an animated read-aloud sure to spur many a rousing rendition. Meow - Meow - Meow!

Oh, Señor Don Gato was a cat.
On a high red roof Don Gato sat. . . .

When Señor Don Gato receives an ardent love letter from the fluffy white lady cat, a dramatic chain of events is set into motion. There’s a tragic fall off the roof, a heart-rending death scene, a ...

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As befits its hero, the song "Señor Don Gato" springs to life in an animated read-aloud sure to spur many a rousing rendition. Meow - Meow - Meow!

Oh, Señor Don Gato was a cat.
On a high red roof Don Gato sat. . . .

When Señor Don Gato receives an ardent love letter from the fluffy white lady cat, a dramatic chain of events is set into motion. There’s a tragic fall off the roof, a heart-rending death scene, a village thrown into mourning for its fallen hero . . . and then love, returned to life and triumphant. Lively and full of fun, John Manders’s illustrations capture delightful details of Spanish architecture and customs, while a costumed cast of cats acts out the well-known children’s song with comically melodramatic flair.

When he climbs on a roof to read a love letter, a cat has an unfortunate fall with unexpected consequences. Music at back of book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Manders, the raucous cartoonist of Dirt Boy, skillfully highlights the absurdity of this well-known children's ditty. Based on a Mexican rhyme, the verse pokes fun at sentimental ballads by casting cats as the star-crossed lovers. A guitar-strumming mouse narrates: "Oh, Se or Don Gato was a cat./ On a high red roof Don Gato sat./ He went there to read a letter,/ Meow-Meow-Meow." Alas, in Don Gato's euphoria over his lady love's acceptance of his marriage proposal, he falls from the roof, breaking "his ribs and all his whiskers,/ .../ And his little solar plexus," and dies. But happily, as the funeral passes through the "market square,/ Such a smell of fish was in the air,/ Though his burial was slated,/ .../ He became reanimated,/ .../ He came back to life, Don Gato!" Gouaches in warm, subdued tones squarely establish time and place while rolling merrily along with the tongue-in-cheek melodrama. Cobblestone streets, orange-red tiled roofs and a buttery sky conjure a sunny, Spanish-flavored village, while Don Gato, dressed as a stuffy Elizabethan-collared dandy, evokes the era of conquistadors. All of Manders's humanlike felines-heavily costumed, walking on two legs-sport appealingly squatty bodies, wide jowls and expressive features. Don Gato, portly and dignified, oozes a self-satisfaction amusingly upended by his rather undignified fate. Musical notations at the end remind the audience that this spirited read-aloud can be a sing-along, too. Ages 3-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The nonsense text is a loose translation in verse of a traditional Mexican rhyme, with music appended, and a periodic chorus of "Meows." Don Gato, the cat, is so happy at the receipt of a love note from a lady cat that he has a bad fall. "Ayyy—Caramba!!!" Unfortunately the doctors are unable to save his life. When his funeral procession passes the redolent fish in the market, however, Don Gato becomes "reanimated" for a happy ending after all. Manders provides zip for the less-than-passionate verse. His pencil and gouache illustrations create a melodramatic affect, putting the spotlight on his characters, particularly Don Gato, with enough background to set the appropriate context. This is a costume-rich story with the added charm of red-tiled roofs, in fact a complete village on the end-papers. Several active mice add sparks to the visual romp. 2003, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 to 6.
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Ah, Senor Don Gato! He is an urbane and charming feline, a Falstaff of cats, at home in his portly physique and quite confident of his charm and allure. Sure enough, a lovely white fluff ball of a lady cat is smitten. Her note to Don Gato so delights her swain that he jumps for joy-right off the roof, breaking his knee, ribs, and whiskers, "And his little solar plexus." That looks like the end, and his fellow felines put him into a pine box. Followed by his weeping sweetheart, the cortege heads for the cemetery. On the way, they pass the fish market, the lovely smell revives the dead, and all ends happily. This traditional English version of a Mexican rhyme has rhythm and pulse. It reads aloud well, and is beautifully extended by Manders's sun-drenched gouache illustrations. The gold tones give the effect of a trip to the south, and the humorous cartoon style gives viewers a Don Gato of charm and substance. Pair this with Charles Perrault's Puss in Boots, as illustrated by Fred Marcellino (Farrar, 1990), for a storytime featuring two cats with class.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Love can hurt real bad. So learns the title character when, overjoyed by the passionate love letter he reads from a black-mantilla-clad lady cat, he falls to his death from high atop a roof. "Ayyy Caramba!!!" indeed. Love doesn't resurrect, however, at least not in Se-or Don's case. No, the smell of fish from an open-air market passed by the funeral cortege does that, and at the end, the happy couple gaze lovingly at a full moon. Manders's witty, energetic gouache paintings are filled with amusing Spanish-themed details (the song's text was originally a Mexican rhyme), and the narrative carries the intermittent refrain of "Meow-Meow-Meow," that will likely encourage young mewers to join in. Song notes are included. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763617240
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.87 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

John Manders works out of his studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, creating artwork for picture books. Of SEÑOR DON GATO, he says, "This Spanish folk song tells a richly detailed story through what is left out of the lyrics. Since Don Gato’s character is never specifically described, I had the wonderful task of imagining this larger-than-life character in pencil and paint."
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2005

    Remembering My Childhood

    I remembering hating this song in my third grade music class, but somehow through the years, it has stuck with me. Now a parent, I was thrilled to see this book so I could teach my child this popular Latin American folk song! The illustrations were lovely as well! We've enjoyed this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2009

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