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The Necessary Cat

The Necessary Cat

by Nicola Bayley

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Collector of all things feline, Bayley (The Mousehole Cat) here compiles an eclectic mix of cat facts, quirks and virtues--culled from every corner of existence, domestic and foreign, past and present--into a unified compendium. Not only do cats turn up in nursery rhymes, paintings, poetry and children's books, but in sayings ("She who denies the cat skimmed milk must give the mouse cream"), advertisements and plant names such as "cat's face" and "catkin." Each spread uses a different format or style of illustration: "Cat Words" includes small line drawings of "cat-o'-nine-tails," "catgut" and "cat's ice" against a beige background in a bingolike grid; in another spread, readers view ornately framed cats rendered in the styles of great masters, such as Rousseau, Goya and Brueghel the Elder, as if perusing an exhibition hall; others present one poem (by the likes of Wordsworth, Farjeon and Yeats) paired with a single painting. Bayley is certainly inclusive; her bewhiskered heroes range from the 50-million-year-old miacid (the cat's first ancestor) to "Sugar," who walked 1500 miles to rejoin her family in Oklahoma, from the Cheshire Cat to the spotted Margay. But more important, her versatile illustrations betray sly humor and a true passion for her subject. Ages 8-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Cat fanciers of all ages will fall in love with Bayley's paean to the feline. Nursery rhymes share space with poems by Keats, Wordsworth, Yeats and Belloc. Diversionary interludes include cat counting, cat lore, historical cats of note, cat etymology (covers cat-o'-nine tails, among other well-chosen words,) and gallery cats painted in the mode of the Old Masters. The lot is lovingly and stunningly illustrated in colored pencil and watercolor by Bayley. This is a bedtime book for little ones, and a permanent keeper for everyone else in the pro-cat family.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-From the exquisite close-up of a cat's face on the cover to the tiny tidbits of cat wisdom and lore inside, this book exhibits the author's fascination with felines of all varieties. What appears at first to be just a vehicle for Bayley's artwork is truly a finely crafted tribute to the cat with a strong focus on verse. Rhymes and poetry by authors both contemporary and classical have been lovingly illustrated in styles ranging from silhouettes to simple line drawings, fanciful cartoons, charming vignettes, and carefully delineated realistic portraits-nearly all rendered in soft colored pencil and watercolor. Print styles, which include some hand lettering, vary with each piece. Bayley presents two-page spreads of cat facts; words; historical oddments; and a gallery of cat paintings, each in the style of a great artist. In addition, she includes a lexicon of wild cats, spreads of "cat scraps" (postcards, labels, candy wrappers, stamps), drawings of toys, plants and flowers with "cat" in their popular names, and tidbits about famous cat lovers (Edward Lear, Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Winston Churchill). In terms of a well-rounded collection of cat poems (by modern poets), Nancy Larrick's Cats Are Cats (Philomel, 1988) is a better choice, but cat lovers will relish every detail in Bayley's compilation. -Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
In a cat fanatic's dream, Bayley exalts felines in the definitive collection of cat bric-a-brac while presenting many nibbles of feline fancy for all ages. The well-chosen contents include pensive poetry by Wordsworth and Yeats; whimsical and nonsensical nursery rhymes; curious cat facts; cat sayings and lore; ways to pet a cat; galleries of distinguished and famous cats; and depictions of cats of every kind. Most riveting is Bayley's diverse, painstaking collection of art; celebrations of cats in clever contexts and with the look of different media, from gentle, delicately colored pencil drawings, to fine pen-and-ink etchings, to bold woodcuts and gossamer watercolors. Every page of this lovely catalogue is ideal for children to pore over, but also a tribute for cat-lovers of all ages. (Picture book. 7+)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Product dimensions:
7.83(w) x 8.64(h) x 0.53(d)
Age Range:
8 - 18 Years

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