A feral cat with kittens to see through the coming winter brings them, one by one, to a family who puts out cream for her and finds them homes. Finally she presents herself to the seemingly learning-disabled boy of the house, sensing him to be someone she can love and trust. Joosse tells her affecting story--based on actual events--simply and for the most part unsentimentally, convincingly rendering the experience from a cat's viewpoint. She captures the elusive but genuine instinct--almost recognition--that can draw particular animals and people together. Regrettably, Sewall's illustrations add little warmth of their own, due to a drab palette heavy on tans and grays, and to figures too rough or oddly proportioned to have strong appeal. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Pre-Gr 3-- A starving feral cat has a litter to feed. She visits a house where a learning disabled boy and his mother give her a bowl of cream. Day after day, she returns and leaves one of her kittens on the porch. The boy's mother asks him if he'd like to keep one, but he declines. A home is found for the first kitten and readers assume there are takers for the others as well, although it is not stated. One day, the mother cat returns to the house and allows herself to be picked up by the boy, who takes her inside the house and makes her a soft bed out of his bathrobe. The last page shows a contented but sleepy mother cat getting a well-deserved snooze. This is a spare but sweet story of an animal's concern for her offspring and a young boy's tenderness toward her. The illustrations, done in gouache, are in predominantly flat, grayed earthtones that underscore the approach of winter and, consequently, the feline's sense of urgency to find homes for her babies. Bright yellow eyes and angular lines capture the essence of the gaunt but brave cat. It is satisfying to see this self-sacrificing survivor find a loving home for herself. --Laura Culberg, Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago
The feral cat is starving and so are her kittens. Consequently, she dares approach a house, where she is greeted by a boy, Hubbel, whose mother puts out a bowl of cream. The next day the cat returns to the house with her tiger kitten, leaving the kitten behind after they share the cream. This scenario is repeated until Hubbel's mother has placed all of the kittens in secure homes. Her nest finally empty, feral cat returns alone to the house, laps the cream, and waits for the boy, who has been waiting for her. Together they enter the house, and feral cat is wild no longer. Based on the author's similar experiences with a wild cat, the story features illustrations painted with thick tempera-textured strokes. Extra depth is added to the story by making Hubbel a learning-disabled youth, a fact only subtly evidenced in the illustrations and by the boy's slowly spoken and simply phrased words. Hubbel's mother initially hesitates to let him feed the cat, lest he spill the cream, but in feral cat's subsequent visits the bowl bears the boy's scent, which tells readers that Hubbel cares about and takes responsibility for the cat. This is a warm cat-lover's story with the bonus of heightening readers' awareness of the needs and abilities of the learning disabled.