Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two fun books about cats

Inside Cat, by Brendan Wenzel, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452173191

Ages 3-5

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Brendan Wenzel brings readers a new story about cats from a different point of view. Where 2017’s They All Saw a Cat showed us how other creatures perceive cats, Inside Cat shows us how a house cat perceives his world. Using rhyme and repetition, we follow Inside Cat as he wanders through a room, stops at windows, and looks outside. Cat’s imagination fills in what he perceives the rest of the outside world entails, from birds wearing clothes stolen off a clothesline to a giant salt shaker shaking snow just outside the window frame. Inside Cat is pretty confident that he knows everything about what goes on in the outside world… until he ventures outside for the first time. Mixed media illustrations and playing with color let readers create their own stories about what goes on outside Cat’s window – or their own! Endpapers get in on the fun. A story that encourages imagination and plays with perception, kids will love hearing Inside Cat again and again.

Inside Cat has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. While I didn’t see an Inside Cat activity kit, you can use many of the cat-tivities (I had to) from the kit for They All Saw a Cat.


Bathe the Cat, by Alice B. McGinty/Illustrated by David Roberts, (Feb. 2022, Chronicle Books). $17.99, ISBN: 9781452142708

Ages 3-5

Grandma’s coming to visit, and it’s time to clean the house! Daddy is calling out chores, all written out with fridge magnets, but Cat will do anything to get his name off that list. As the chores get wackier and wackier, Daddy and Papa are desperate to know who’s messing with the list! I mean, really: sweep the dishes? Scrub the fishes? The clock is ticking! Can these dads and their kids get it together and get the house clean in time? A laugh-out-loud story about a cat who’s a step ahead of its family, with bright, eye-catching pencil and watercolor artwork. There are two brown-skinned dads and a diverse group of kids, and the chaos is fun and relatable as they turn into a whirlwind of misguided chores as Cat, firmly set against having a bath, gives knowing smiles and side-eye expressions in between spreads showing them playing with the magnet letters and creating all sorts of wacky chores. There are thoughtful details, like various Pride flags decorating the refrigerator and Grandma’s tote bag (I see you, Philly!). A fun, quietly meaningful book that embraces the chaos of family life and shows a fun, positive depiction of an LGBTQ+ family. Pair with Friday Night Wrestlefest by JF Fox and Micah Player for more stories about family hijinks.

Download a fun activity kit, complete with a chore list and wacky word scramble, to hand out at storytime.

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Uncategorized

Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch gives kids a new heroine to follow


maddy kettleMaddy Kettle, Book 1: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch, by Eric Orchard (Sept. 2014, Top Shelf Comics), $14.95, ISBN: 9781603090728

Recommended for ages 8-14

Maddy Kettle is an 11 year-old on a mission. Her parents have been turned into kangaroo rats by the Thimblewitch, so she sets out with her pet space toad, Ralph, to find the witch and get her to restore them. She will have to evade goblin spiders and scarecrow soldiers, and she’ll meet a bear and raccoon team of cloud cartographers who map the skies as she sets out on her journey.

This story is a great illustration of people’s perceptions, and how they can be so very wrong. It’s a great story for parents and kids to read together, and one that teachers should be using in the classroom, accompanied by a discussion on perception versus reality, and how we judge people by those perceptions.

Without getting too far into spoilery territory, Maddy learns that her thinking needs some adjustment as she meets these “bad” characters and learns what the real story is behind the bits and pieces she knows.¬†She grows as a person, and heads off into new adventures – adventures, I hope, that will teach us new lessons as she goes on.

There is some great art in here; kids and adults alike will be drawn into the story by the retro-futuristic artwork and the quick pacing and resolution. It’s an all-around great intro to a new series that gives kids another positive female role model, who’s also a relatable kid (Zita the Spacegirl fans, are you with me?).

Maddy Kettle, Book 1: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch will be available this Tuesday. Check it out in stores, or order your digital copy on the Top Shelf website.

In the meantime, check out some more of the art, courtesy of Top Shelf’s website.