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Kitten envy

Do I have to give her back?

With new friend Echo. Do I have to give her back?

It seems as though all of my friends have new kittens and want to torture me by constantly posting pictures, resulting in a serious case of kitten envy. For various reasons (#1 being my neurotic adult cat), introducing a kitten to my life is not the best plan at the moment, so I’m contenting myself — for now — with a few kitty-centric books.

On the cute-overload side…

marciuliano_i knead my mommyI Knead My Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens by Francesco Marciuliano (Chronicle, August 2014)
The latest in Marciuliano’s series of pet-perspective poetry books (I Could Chew on This, I Could Pee on This) features a kitten’s-eye view of the world. Although the brief poems admittedly aren’t great literature, they are frequently funny or touching; one of my favorites is “Not Goodbye”:

I still smell the older cat
On his favorite chair
On his favorite blanket
On his favorite toy
On me
I still smell the older cat
But I can’t find him anywhere
And now his dish is gone
And now his bed is gone
And now you are crying
But I still smell the older cat
So tomorrow I will look again

The poems are accompanied by many super-cute (stock) photos of kittens in all their fuzzy, bobble-headed glory. A good gift book for the crazy cat person on your list.

cinotto_itty bitty kitty committeeThe Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: The Ultimate Guide to All Things Kitten by Laurie Cinotto (Roaring Brook, March 2014)
Part photo album, part how-to book, this paperback inspired by “kitten wrangler” Cinotto’s blog of the same name introduces several dozen of her previous foster cats as well as basic kitten care and the responsibilities kitten-fostering entails. Instructions for DIY kitten accoutrements, an advice column “written by” adult cat Charlene, comics created with photos and speech bubbles, kid-oriented tips on keeping kittens happy and healthy, and suggestions for helping shelter cats round out this offering. The kitty pics are definitely the main attraction, though; just try not to squee at this one.

 

On the bizarre-but-kinda-awesome end of the spectrum…

kelly_Downton TabbyDownton Tabby: A Parody by Chris Kelly (Simon & Schuster, December 2013)
Cats make a weirdly appropriate (re)cast for the Edwardian-era BBC drama about an entitled family and their servants: “A Code of Conduct for Cats and Gentlefolk” offers advice such as “Never do anything for yourself that someone else can do for you,” “Communicate disapproval [and affection] with a withering glare,” and “Loaf in a decorative and highly charming manner.” This is a strange and not entirely successful little volume, but the well-dressed hairless cat as the acerbic “Dowager Catness” is pretty spot-on. (Another gem: a diagram of a formal place setting indicating the “mouse fork,” “vole fork,” etc.)

herbert_pre-raphaelite catsPre-Raphaelite Cats by Susan Herbert (Thames & Hudson, May 2014)

Possibly even stranger (/cooler) is this collection of cat-ified Pre-Raphaelite portraits. Thirty works by Pre-Raphaelite founders Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais and their followers are reimagined with a variety of anthropomorphized kitty subjects. Some highlights: homages to Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix, John William Waterhouse’s Ophelia, and Edward Burne-Jones‘s The Golden Stairs. Each painting on the recto is accompanied by a few lines of contextual information or a short quotation on the verso; about half the versos include spot line-art of the featured felines. Black-and-white thumbnail reproductions of the original art are appended.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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Comments

  1. Peggy Kopp says:

    Thank you for sharing about the kitten book and I too liked the poem you posted. My students really struggle when they lose a pet and this poem would be great to share with them. Pets are such an important part of the family and I see the pain when a student shares they lost their pet.

  2. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    Hi Peggy,
    I recently lost a (very old and well-loved) cat myself, which is part of why I think this poem spoke so strongly to me! Naomi Shihab Nye’s reminiscence of her cat Scout also helped: http://www.hbook.com/2005/05/authors-illustrators/spiral-staircase/

    I know how difficult it is to lose a pet, especially in childhood, so I will keep my eyes open for more resources for kids and let you know if I come across any. Off the top of my head, BONE DOG by Eric Rohmann, SAMSARA DOG by Helen Manos and Julie Vivas, HARRY AND HOPPER by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood, and (of course) the classic THE TENTH GOOD THING ABOUT BARNEY by Judith Viorst and Erik Blegvad are some good ones.

  3. Loralyn B says:

    Thank you for the kitten book reviews. We just adopted a kitten so I may have to check out the Itty Bitty Kitten Committee Book to make sure I am treating her right! With so many people adopting cats this would be a very good addition to a elementary school library. I am also a Downton Abbey follower and think that Downton Tabby looks quite comical.

  4. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:
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