The Cats movie is coming out in December; whether you’ve seen the trailer or not, whether you’re ready for this movie to come to the big screen or not, you know it’s going to be an event. Me? I’m perfectly happy to read these Faber & Faber picture books starring some of T.S. Eliot’s more memorable feline characters. There are five books in the series; I’ve received three to review, and have to say, I really enjoy them. Am I going a Cats movie storytime? I don’t know about that, but I am always down for a cat storytime.
Macavity is a master thief, a cheat, a sneak, a charismatic rebel who always manages to stay one paw ahead of the law. T.S. Eliot’s Macavity poem wanders through this story, amusingly illustrated by Arthur Robins, who wittily draws the marmalade tabby as a rangy, sly cat who sharp-eyed readers will catch glimpses of at the scenes of his various crime scenes. The bloodhound police dog just can’t keep up with the Napoleon of Crime.
Mister Mistoffelees is the elegant conjurer, the magician, who can creep through the tiniest crack and walk on the narrowest rail. He can play tricks on humans, and is rumored to have magical powers, not just skill at sleight of hand. The little black cat is can saw a dog in half and produce kittens from his magical hat; he can be asleep by the fire while he’s heard on the roof. He’s just the Magical Mister Mistoffelees!
The Jellicle Cats are the party animals of T.S. Eliot’s world. With their dapper attire and their cool dance moves, the group of black and white cats head en masse to the Jellicle Ball, where they dance and sing by the light of the moon. They sleep all day, saving their energy to let it rip when the Jellicle Moon shines bright.
Each book is illustrated by Arthur Robins, who brings a wonderful, fun look to T.S. Eliot’s playful rhymes. Each cat is bursting with personality, from Mister Mistoffelees’s rainbow bow tie and wand flourishes to Macavity’s sly smile as he traps an unsuspecting mouse, to the dapper Jellicle Cats doing the Charleston under a full moon. The books are colorful and the art is bold, with chunky outlines defining the cats and their environs. The poetry is in large, bold, black font, making this an easy read for newly confident readers that like to play with language, and works really well in a storytime, where you can be playful with the words and your own movements. Add some felt Cats to your storytime! These are begging for a felt board reading.
The Kiddo (my second grader) got a big kick out of these – Macavity is a favorite, because he’s 7 and he’s all about being a rebel. I’m going to introduce these in a storytime and see how they go over; I’d love to include these in our poetry collection, because it’s making a classic work super-accessible to young learners.
Don’t miss Arthur Robins’s webpage, where you can see more of his illustration, scribbles, and cartoons he’s had featured in UK magazines.