Space Cat and the Kittens

Space Cat and the Kittens

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486822754
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 11/14/2018
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 316,795
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 6 - 10 Years

About the Author

Scottish poet, novelist, and artist Ruthven Todd (1914–78) is best known as an editor of William Blake's works and as an author of children's stories, including four Space Cat adventures. He also wrote detective fiction under the pseudonym R. T. Campbell.
Illustrator and writer Paul Galdone (1907–86) specialized in children's books. His illustrations for Eve Titus' books include the Basil of Baker Street series. He and Titus were nominated for Caldecott Medals for Anatole (1957) and Anatole and the Cat (1958), titles that were named Caldecott Honor books in 1971. Galdone was posthumously awarded the 1996 Kerlan Award for his contributions to children's literature.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

They were in and out of everything. When you thought you had cornered one of the red and gray bundles flashing among the crates in the storeroom, you would suddenly become aware that you had been attacked from behind by another. With its sharp claws unsheathed it was scrambling up your back.

Still, everyone on the Moon not only put up with them but liked them. This was only right, for their parents were the most famous cats in the whole of space. Flyball, their father, had not only been the first cat to leave Earth for the Moon, but he had also been the first cat on Venus and on Mars.

On Mars he had found his wife. Moofa was the last of the Martian fishing cats. Red as any firetruck, with darker stripes that ran from her head to her tail, she had lived on the fish that she caught in the Martian canals.

Now Moofa and Flyball had these two kittens — Marty and Tailspin. Marty was the older brother by a few minutes and was as proud of it as if he had arranged it himself.

At first glance the kittens, showing both their father's gray and their mother's red, looked exactly alike. Then a second look showed that Tailspin had a pure gray tip to his tail while Marty's tail was red all the way.

The kittens had been born on the Moon and both Moofa and Flyball agreed that it was an ideal place for kittens, even though there were neither mice nor birds for them to chase.

On the Moon they were almost as light as feathers and could jump the most tremendous distances. Still, they found, it was just as hard to catch one's tail on the Moon as it was on Earth. They knew about Earth, for they had visited it on the shuttle-rockets which went back and forth all the time.

The Earth, the kittens thought, was rather a dull place. A jump that on the Moon would carry them across a room, on Earth was only an ordinary little pounce.

Although they were delightful, the kittens were the despair of everyone on the Moon. If there was any mischief around, they would find it, and it also seemed that they went out of their way to invent new kinds of mischief for themselves.

Marty, who had inherited his mother's love of swimming, was found one day paddling around in a vast kettle of soup, just before it was due to be put on the stove in the canteen kitchen. Tailspin, who was of an inquiring turn of mind, discovered that, on the Moon, he was strong enough to open faucets and was found, just in time, as he was opening one on a tank of rocketfuel. As a result of this, all the faucets on the Moon had to be tightened so that, strong though he might be, he could not turn them.

Then, too, there was the day when, as one of the rockets was being shunted toward the air lock, just before taking off for Earth, one of the workmen heard a strange noise. And, out of a tube, there tumbled the two kittens.

When Flyball heard of this he was very stern indeed in talking to the kittens. Fun was fun, he said, but they could get badly hurt doing things like that and he did not think it at all funny himself. Moofa agreed with him, and the kittens were subdued, for a short while.

Then, switching their tails in the air, to show that they were not depressed, they went to the great workshop to help the workmen unpack some most interesting crates that had newly arrived from Earth.

The workmen did not know that they needed help, but Marty and Tailspin soon showed them, throwing excelsior all over the place and tearing pieces of paper up into thousands of useful bits.

CHAPTER 2

With a smooth gray paw, Flyball preened his whiskers and looked over at Moofa who was drowsing on a chair. They were in Fred Stone's room. Fred was Flyball's companion on all his flights through space.

"I suppose," Flyball said lazily, "we'll have to take the kittens with us?"

Moofa lifted one of her red eye-lids and looked at him with surprise showing on her face.

"Of course," she replied, "just think of the mischief they'd get into without us!"

"I was thinking of that," Flyball unsheathed the claws of his left front paw and examined them carefully. "That was the trouble. We don't even know where we are going or what we will find. Of course," he seized on a bright point, "they do know how to behave in free fall!"

He was remembering how, as a kitten himself, he had fallen around the cabin of the primitive rocket on the first flight from the Earth to the Moon. "But this new ship is a different matter. They say it will go much faster than light and that we're going right out to the stars in it. Then, too, this ship is far too big for Fred to manage by himself. There will be two men in it, and we don't know how the other will get on with the kittens. Fred, of course, is all right."

As if the mention of his name had been a signal, the door of the room, which had been slightly ajar, swung wide open and Fred Stone came in, followed by another man.

Behind them, their tails and noses stuck in the air, and with such a look of goodness on their faces that Moofa was immediately suspicious, prowled Marty and Tailspin.

Moofa jumped off her chair and grabbed Marty and gave him a quick going over with her tongue. There was a faint flavor of pepper about his fur which told her that he had been up to no good in the kitchen.

While she was thus occupied in washing, Tailspin batted at her tail, as if hoping that he could distract her attention from him. It was, however, no use, for as soon as she had finished with Marty she turned and grabbed him by an ear and started washing him. Tailspin tasted vaguely of machine oil, so she knew that he had been helping, or hindering, the men in the machine shop.

Fred Stone reached down and ran a firm hand over Flyball's head and along his back. Flyball acknowledged this attention with a friendly purr and stood up and stretched himself, his magnificent gray tail all a-bristle.

The other man, who was not as tall as Fred, came forward. Mart was rubbing himself against the man's leg in an approving manner.

"This is Bill," Fred said, "and he's going with us. He wanted to meet the other members of the crew. Bill, this is Flyball."

The man stooped and ran his fingers through Flyball's fur. Flyball thought he felt and smelled all right. Then Fred introduced Bill to Moofa, who gave him a polite purr. The kittens did not need any introducing for, with easy Moon jumps, they had leaped up on Bill's shoulder and were making his uniform have a red and gray fur collar.

Bill removed this most un-Air-Force-like collar and sat down in an armchair, where the kittens immediately started tussling in his lap.

"Well," said Fred once he too was comfortably seated, with both Flyball and Moofa on his knees purring loudly as they realized that something exciting was happening, or was about to happen. "Well, we'll be ready in a day or two now. What do you think of that, Flyball, you old space cat?" He gave Flyball's ear a friendly tweak.

Flyball opened his mouth wide in a yawn, to show that he, personally, did not think too much of space travel, now that he was so used to it. Just the same, he could not hide a feeling of excitement from himself, a hollowness inside that he always felt, even on such a simple flight as that from the Moon to the Earth or the other way round.

Moofa, too, perked her whiskers.

The kittens did not pay the least attention, but Tailspin just went on chewing away at Marty's tail. They did not mind how they traveled or where they went. Born on the Moon and taken to Earth almost before their eyes had opened, they were so used to space travel that they thought no more of it than any ordinary, Earth-born kitten would have thought of a ride in a car. All they were sure of was that, no matter where they went or how they got there, they would have fun.

Bill and Fred went on talking and Flyball looked at Moofa, raising an inquiring eyebrow, and twitching an inquisitive whisker.

"Yes," she said quietly in cat-talk. "He's all right. He's not like Fred, of course, but he'll do."

At last Fred stood up and Moofa and Flyball slid to the ground where they looked up at him. Marty and Tailspin chased madly out of the door, chasing an imaginary mouse, for, of course, Flyball had told them all about mice, just as Moofa had told them all about fish.

"Hmm." Fred looked down the corridor after them, and reached down to stroke Flyball. "I think the kittens are a little too small for space suits. Still we can always try them. Of course, too, they're growing so fast that we'll need to make them expandable. And we'll need to take a supply of different sizes with us as we don't know how long we'll be gone. I'll see what the mechanics can rig up. Well, Bill, I suppose we'd better be getting along. There's still an awful lot to do."

They left the room as the kittens rushed in again. Moofa snatched at Marty as he whirled past her, and holding him down with a firm paw, washed his ears to sharp and clean points. Flyball did the same for Tailspin, who pretended it was not a washing but a fight. He lay on his back and kicked at Flyball with all four feet, but was careful to keep his sharp claws sheathed.

"Did you hear that, you two?" asked Flyball. "We're going on another voyage of discovery, and if you want to come, you'd better behave yourselves."

"Behave ourselves?" Tailspin looked as though the thought of mischief had never crossed his mind and as if a pound of butter, placed between his paws, would have been perfectly safe there.

"Yes ... behave yourselves," put in Moofa. "Otherwise you'll be left behind!"

Both kittens stopped scuffling for a moment and did their best to look most terribly serious.

"You wouldn't do that!" exclaimed Marty. "It wouldn't be fair!"

"Oh, wouldn't we?" Flyball answered. "Of course, we would. And it would be fair. We can't have you making a nuisance of yourselves out in space. Here, it's all right for you to fool around, but out there it might be really dangerous. Now, I want you to promise me that you'll be on your best behavior all the time we are away. How about it?"

The kittens looked at one another seriously. They could see that Flyball meant what he said. So they promised that, indeed, they would be good, and at the time, they meant it.

CHAPTER 3

In the immense loneliness of space where, a moment earlier, there had been nothing but emptiness, there was a glowing shimmer and suddenly a great spaceship flashed into being.

Inside the ship Fred Stone looked over at Bill Parks. Both their faces, which had been lined with anxiety, started to relax. Finally, they were able to smile at one another.

"So that's that, Skipper," Bill said. "We've made it. Though I've never really been able to believe in it, that hyperdrive thing does seem to work all right."

"Yes," Fred replied, as he pressed the button which slid aside the covers and looked out of a porthole into the vast emptiness of space where, however, a strange sun shone in the distant dark blueness. "And, if all the calculations are right, that should be Alpha Centauri. Now we'll have to cruise around and see if there are any planets man can live on. Thank goodness we'll be doing that under ordinary rocket power. I don't really like this business of taking a tuck in time and space. I suppose that's because I don't really understand it any more than you do, Bill!"

The kittens, with tiny magnets fitted to the pads of their feet, were let out of the box where they had been shut, not so much for the sake of safety as to keep them out of mischief during the three hours or so it had taken the great ship to wink out of the system of their familiar sun and reappear in that of Alpha Centauri, some nine thousand light-years away from Earth.

Unlike Flyball and Moofa, Tailspin and Marty did not think there was anything out of the ordinary in free fall. They had been accustomed to it practically from the time their eyes had opened and, used as they were to the low gravity of the Moon, looked upon it as merely a superior kind of weightlessness.

Although the cabin of the Einstein was as compact as it was humanly possible to make it and there was nothing which might work loose in free fall and hurt any of the passengers, there was still plenty to amuse two inquisitive and energetic kittens.

Just because they knew they were supposed not to go near the control board, with its buttons, dials and levers, they were particularly fascinated by it and, tumbling head over tail, batted one another toward it.

They thought they were being awfully clever but they had forgotten that their father had also been a kitten and was not so old that he had forgotten how cunning he had thought himself.

Suddenly they found themselves flying backwards, higgledy-piggledy. Flyball had taken a great pounce and had given each of them a hearty cuff, knowing that he would not hurt them since not having any weight, they could offer no resistance.

Marty and Tailspin let their magnets hold them against the cabin wall and hung there pretending that their father had wounded them most terribly. But it was only their feelings that had been hurt and they soon forgot about them. Bill took a piece of paper out of a pocket and crumpled it up and tossed it up in the air, where it stayed floating.

This was too much for the kittens. Their dignity might be injured, but they could not resist the crumpled ball spinning lazily around like a miniature planet. Without hesitation they took off after it, whirling and tumbling.

Both reached it at the same moment and they started a tiny war, each claiming that it was his "mouse." It was most difficult to run a proper battle in free fall for, unless the kittens clung together, the slightest push would send them both flying in opposite directions. Meanwhile the paper ball, the cause of it all, stayed where it was. But it was great fun and helped the kittens use up their energy, a mysterious substance of which Moofa always said they had too much.

The Einstein was called after the great scientist whose inquiries into the nature of both time and space had given the suggestions which eventually had made it possible to build the ship. Now, under ordinary rocket drive, she was cutting her way through space toward a place where the scientists on Earth and on the Moon had worked out that there might be a planet of the same type as Earth.

Instead of judging his position from that of his own Sun, Fred Stone now had to calculate from the larger, blazing sun which was what Alpha Centauri was now seen to be. The Earth's Sun was now no more than a faint star, millions and millions of miles away from them in space.

Even Flyball, who treated space travel as if it was a rather tiresome necessity, had to admit to himself that he was impressed by the fact that, somehow, in such a short period of time as they knew time, they had been able to come so far from home. Moofa, whose longest journey had been from Mars to the Moon, did not think of it at all. She had been a grown cat when she had first met these strange creatures called men. She did not pretend that she understood them, or their desire to go on odd voyages of discovery.

She was glad that she had found she was not the only cat in the universe, as she had once thought she was back on Mars. Where Flyball went she went too, and she would treat the most extraordinary things as if they were commonplace. Earth and Moon had appeared so strange after the utter loneliness of Mars that all other strangenesses were small.

Marty and Tailspin were still kicking their "mouse," helter-skelter, around the cabin. Under their care it was gradually coming to pieces and confetti-like bits drifted in the air.

Still the Einstein ran on, noiseless in the vacuum of space.

CHAPTER 4

So they traveled for many days. Though out in space there really were neither nights nor days. Finally, however, Fred pressed the button that slid the covers off the portholes.

"What do you think of that?" he asked, pointing. Bill and Flyball, followed by the kittens, came up behind him.

He was pointing to an object, rather like a green orange, ahead of them in the emptiness.

"The brainy boys seem to have been right when they worked out that we might find a planet hereabouts. And, what's more, that green suggests that it may be an Earth-type planet at that! What do you think, Bill?"

Bill was looking at the planet through a strange instrument with arms sticking out from it at different angles. He twiddled thumbscrews and moved these arms about, making different adjustments. At last he looked away from the eyepiece.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Space Cat and the Kittens"
by .
Copyright © 1958 Ruthven Todd.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Space Cat and the Kittens 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
cyndecat1 4 months ago
This is a wonderful continuation of the story of Flyball and his family's adventures in Space.This time they land on a planet near Alpha Centauri that is small and earth-like. The kittens go exploring and first meet up with a tiny horse with five toes. Next the spacemen and spacecats are attacked by tiny pterodactyls and they begin to realize that this planet has tiny versions of several dinosaurs that had existed on earth thousands of years ago but instead of being the giant terrifying monsters of earth, they are all miniature but some are still frightening. These books were originally written in 1957 and show a brilliant vision for the future of space travel (a science that was in it's infancy at the time. It is also cool to note that Elon Musk is designing a vehicle that lands and takes off very much like the one featured in this book. The books are chapter books meant for young readers , but equally enjoyable for all. There are gentle lessons included especially through the actions of the kittens like obey your parents,and don't wander off. This is just a beautiful series of early science fiction writing!!
sspea 8 months ago
This was a fast and cute read. Definitely a great book to instill a love of reading in a child. Going by the description I assumed there would be more pictures. The illustrations were great, I just wish there had been more.