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Toots the Cat: Poems

Toots the Cat: Poems

by Karla Kuskin, Lisze Bechtold (Illustrator)

Meet Toots, the lovable feline terror of the house

Toots will win you over just as easily as she walks all over you. She eats, plays, naps, and comes and goes as she pleases. But she is so lovable that you’ll want her to be your very own animal companion.

In this collection of poems, an ode to the author’s own cat, Karla Kuskin’s


Meet Toots, the lovable feline terror of the house

Toots will win you over just as easily as she walks all over you. She eats, plays, naps, and comes and goes as she pleases. But she is so lovable that you’ll want her to be your very own animal companion.

In this collection of poems, an ode to the author’s own cat, Karla Kuskin’s evocative and whimsical phrases perfectly capture Toot’s attitude and charm. Vibrant, playful illustrations by Lisze Bechtold make the pages come alive with feline energy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kuskin's (Roar and More) meditations on a stray calico cat brim with images that surprise. The poems capture the curiosity, independence and quixotic nature of cats with metaphors that elicit an immediate visual image: Toots "walks/ like a couple of ballerinas/ across the bright meringue/ of untouched snow," or rests "in a sun pool/ like a curled fur shell." Bechtold's (Buster the Very Shy Dog) black-lined watercolors occasionally match the uniqueness of the verse, especially in images for the aforementioned poems. But Tootsie's exaggerated tail and spotted dog-like fur are not always consistently rendered. Some illustrations seem overly familiar: Toots hangs from a screen door like a Garfield toy suction-cupped to a car window and a Siamese cat walks with her head in the air reminiscent of the snooty cats from Disney's Lady and the Tramp. Taken as a whole, both art and text capture a girl's experience of the frustration and joy concomitant with tending a household of cats. The verses add up to a plaintive eulogy for a much-loved pet who disappears one night as mysteriously as she arrived ("though she was willful/ and wild as a loon,/ she is gone./ It's too soon./ It's too soon./ It's too soon"). Kuskin's insightful, original perspectives are sure to appeal to cat lovers. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
In a series of 18 poems, Kuskin pays extravagant homage to every beloved feature of Tootsie the cat, from her ears ("Let us begin with Tootsie's ears") to her nose (a point "pale and pink, a rose among fur snows"), to her "billowing sail" of a tail. Tootsie's charms will be wryly familiar to cat fanciers of all ages: "When she's in/ she meows to be out. / When she's out / she prefers to be in." On a hot July day, her favorite spot to reside is her hot companion's hot lap; when important papers cannot be found, Tootsie will be spied curled up on top of them; indeed, she views her companion as primarily functioning as Tootsie's own personal couch. Only one poem strikes a wrong note. "Mad Cat" suggests that Tootsie has gone missing, accompanied by a mournful picture of a telephone pole bearing Tootsie's LOST CAT sign in the snow. We never get a reassuring poem telling us how Tootsie arrives home, so this feels like an isolated and worrying thread of a longer story that needs to be told. For the rest, the poems and accompanying watercolors are a cat lover's delight, the perfect tribute to "the very queen of calicoes" and to cats everywhere. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-In this story in poems, readers are introduced to Toots-a calico-who saunters inside a house, claims the best chair as her own, and decides that she is home. Through selections about her ears, nose, tail, and character, readers get to know this cat who loves naps and moonlight strolls. There is a relaxed chronology; Toots "adopts" her family, observes her summertime schedule, makes paw prints in the snow and, finally, rests in a pool of sunlight in a favorite chair. There are moments of tranquillity ("When our cat is at rest/our house is at rest/and so is the earth and sky"), as well as instances when she shows her undomesticated side: "A velvet missile/arching toward a feathered goal." Most of the selections have easy, natural rhyme schemes and comfortable rhythms. Kuskin uses gentle humor throughout and captures the characteristics of these beloved pets. The poem "In or Out?" summarizes the indecisive spirit of felines in a whirlwind of playful poetics: "Whatever wherever whichever/however forever moreover/from cover to cover/from housemat to clover/she makes it quite clear/she would rather be here/if she's there." Bechtold's cheery pencil, watercolor, and gouache illustrations portray a charming cat who shares her house with three other felines and a devoted human. Set against plenty of white space, the illustrations add to the humor of funny poems and caring sentiment of the touching ones. Display this book with Cynthia Rylant's Boris (Harcourt, 2005) and Alice Schertle's I Am the Cat (Lothrop, 1999).-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This love letter to the poet's cat celebrates with rueful affection the many different joys and annoyances of being owned by a pet. The small, intimate series of poems, marked by Kuskin's signature wordplay, introduces readers to Toots, a stray who firmly adopts her family, with her many character quirks, some prototypically feline ("Did you ever spend an hour and forty-eight minutes / looking for a piece of paper / only to realize that / the piece of paper / you have been looking for / for an hour and forty-eight minutes / is underneath the cat?"), some entirely individual (she naps in the vines, "Wisterious"). Bechtold's illustrations display their usual fluid humor, getting at the heart of the cat, in dignity (waving her magnificent tail in stately progress) and ridiculousness (yearningly clinging to a screen door). If some of the poems seem to celebrate any cat rather than the titular Toots, the collection nevertheless stands as an entirely sweet rumination on the joys of pet ownership and as such will find many happy and simpatico child readers. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.22(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Karla Kuskin is the celebrated author of such books as The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. Ms. Kuskin, a cat lover, and her husband, live on Bainbridge Island in Washington State.

Lisze Becthold is the author and illustrator of such highly praised picture books as Buster the Very Shy Dog. She lives in South Pasadena, California with her family and pets.

Visit Lisze Bechtold at her web site: www.liszebechtold.com

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