The Christmas Cat

The Christmas Cat

4.5 2
by Maryann MacDonald
     
 

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A cozy Nativity story for those who love Christmas and cats.

All babies are beautiful and all babies cry. Jesus was no exception. On the night he was born, nothing Mary, Joseph, or the animals in the stable could do would comfort him. But when a curious kitten wanted its turn to calm the baby Jesus, a loving friendship blossomed on that very first

Overview

A cozy Nativity story for those who love Christmas and cats.

All babies are beautiful and all babies cry. Jesus was no exception. On the night he was born, nothing Mary, Joseph, or the animals in the stable could do would comfort him. But when a curious kitten wanted its turn to calm the baby Jesus, a loving friendship blossomed on that very first Christmas.

This perfect read-aloud was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of La Madonna del Gatto, which show Mary lovingly holding the baby Jesus who is cuddling a cat.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/16/2013
Macdonald turns a parent’s eye on the Nativity scene though the familiar struggle to calm an inconsolable infant. All efforts fail, until “a curious kitten crept out of the shadows”; later, the same cat keeps Jesus calm as the family flees Herod’s soldiers. Working in watercolor and gouache, Bates creates marvelous earth-toned illustrations of all the familiar characters, with texture and depth added through deft pencil marks and attention to light and shadow. An author’s note credits inspiration from da Vinci’s multiple drawings of La Madonna del Gatto, or the Madonna of the Cat. An especially intimate and human retelling, with exquisite drawings. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“This warm, inviting interpretation offers a new slant on the familiar story, interesting to all but especially irresistible to cat lovers.”—Kirkus (starred review)
School Library Journal
10/01/2013
K-Gr 3—According to the author's note, this somewhat lengthy story was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of La Madonna del Gatto as well as legends of a cat that purred Jesus to sleep. Only a kitten hiding in the stables can console a crying baby Jesus, and the two newborns form a bond. Later, when the family must flee Herod's forces, the feline can't be found and is seemingly left behind. Much to the delight of a heartbroken Jesus, the cat has secretly stowed away in the family's belongings, helping to keep him quiet as they escape to Egypt. With its focus beyond the Nativity, this story is an interesting change from typical Christmas fare. The expressive characters set against the rich background of watercolors in ochres, blues, and grays are lovely, but the frequent use of white text against this background makes reading a challenge. Cat lovers might be the best audience for this take on a familiar tale.—Brooke Sheets, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci of the Madonna and baby Jesus holding a cat inspire this tender Nativity story about a kitten that becomes a beloved pet of the Christ child. The story begins with a wailing baby. "Jesus was beautiful, like all babies. And like all babies, he cried." That thematic thread of a cranky, crying (but cute) Christ child continues, with the only thing that will calm him the purring and attention of a ginger kitten. The cat bonds with the baby in the stable immediately after the child's birth, soothing the crying baby when parents, doves, a cow and a donkey have all failed. When Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee King Herod's soldiers, the cat stows away in the donkey's pack, once again soothing the child and stopping his crying. The final page of the story shows Mary next to Jesus as a boy with his full-grown cat, with one of Leonardo's similarly structured drawings reproduced on the last page with an author's note. Evocative illustrations in watercolor, gouache and pencil are filled with golden light, capturing the touching interactions between mother and baby, child and cat. This warm, inviting interpretation offers a new slant on the familiar story, interesting to all but especially irresistible to cat lovers. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803734982
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
10/17/2013
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.24(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“This warm, inviting interpretation offers a new slant on the familiar story, interesting to all but especially irresistible to cat lovers.”—Kirkus (starred review)

Meet the Author

Maryann Macdonald grew up near Detroit with seven brothers and sisters.  She lived for many years in Europe, but has now settled in New York City.   One day, while exploring the Metropolitan Museum there, she discovered the Leonardo da Vinci drawing that inspired her to write The Christmas Cat.  She has written numerous books for children.

Amy June Bates grew up in Utah and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in illustration. She has illustrated over forty books for children and has been honored by the Society of Illustrators for her work. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.

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The Christmas Cat 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This is the story for cat lovers who want to share the story of baby Jesus with their children.  A crying Jesus needs comforting, and a little kitten fits the bill.  A story more about friendship with pets than the story of Christ.  It's filled with beautiful pictures, and is based on a legend of a cat living in the stable in Bethlehem.  It was inspired by the author's childhood trip to an art museum with a picture drawn by Leonardo da Vinci of Mary, Jesus, and the cat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An endearing read aloud that makes the familiar Christmas story more relatable by creating the character of Jesus' kitten.  The lyrical text  is accompanied by marvelous illustrations that make this a book to add to my Christmas collection even though I'm not particularly a cat person.  The author's note linking the story to the Leonardo drawing at the Met makes this book a useful teaching tool on finding inspiration all around us.