Tag Archives: cat

The Cat Wants Custard by P. Crumble and Lucinda Gifford

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The Cat Wants Custard by P. Crumble and Lucinda Gifford, hardback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2016.

Kevin is feeling a little peckish, but not for chicken, fish or beef. Perhaps something sweet, just like custard!

Kevin is adorably grumpy and demanding, just like your typical house cat. His efforts to communicate his desire to his owner are very amusing, especially when he contorts his own body into the letters of the word custard. I also really like when he is trying to get into the fridge. My kids think the ending is hilarious.

The story is fun and the colourful illustrations are gorgeous. Kevin is drawn with such expressive facial and body language. I really enjoy sharing The Cats Wants Custard with my kids.

We just love Kevin in The Cat Wants Custard, with regular bedtime readings of this fantastic book. Highly recommended for pre-schoolers and lower primary school children.

The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights by Lola McClane

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birdThe Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights by Lola McClane and illustrated by Angel dela Peña, picture e-book, 64 pages, published by Xlibris in 2015.

Augie and his sister, Snookie, are newly hatched young birds. Together they eat, laugh, learn and grow, until it comes time for their flying lessons. Snooki takes to the air, but Augie finds himself unable to leave the nest due to an intense fear of heights. He is very lonely while his sister and mum are off flying until a cat appears at the edge of the nest. The cat, Coleman, helps Augie to overcome his fear of heights.

This is a pleasant story of a wonderful and unlikely friendship that brings about a huge change in a little bird’s life. It is about persistence, patience and determination, as well as the faith and trust found between friends. I quite liked the feel-good nature of the story. This book could be a good starting point for talking about fears and phobias in general with kids. While it is specifically about overcoming a fear of heights, many fears can be tackled in a similar way.

The illustrations are appealing to children and very cute. Augie reminded me of the chickenhawk from the old Looney Tunes cartoons I used to watch as a kid. I read a digital copy, but I think that reading the physical book would help align the illustrations with the relevant text better.

I found the text on some of the pages was unpleasant to the eye. Where there was a coloured background, each individual word was surrounded by a small white outline, which I hated. It was more difficult to read than the text printed on lighter colours or white, and I felt like I was straining my eyes.

The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights was too long for my younger children to enjoy in one sitting. It was better for my older kids; my 9 year old particularly liked it. It is suitable for reading to lower primary school children, while middle primary school children could read it for themselves.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Tabby, Tabby, Burning Bright by Emily Martha Sorensen

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TabbyTabbyBurningBrightCoverTabby, Tabby, Burning Bright by Emily Martha Sorensen, e-book picture book, 27 pages, published in 2016.

The tabby cat has swallowed a flashlight, and everywhere he goes, he emits a yellow glow from his mouth. He uses his newfound ability to his advantage, as a distraction and for fun. How did he get the flashlight to start with?

Tabby, Tabby, Burning Bright is a silly rhyming story that made me chuckle. Each page has just one line of text with a cute illustration. I liked the way the cat was drawn, and the picture of Mum chasing him with a broom was funny. Whilst the story is reasonably short, some of the words were difficult for young children, such as ‘ire’ and ‘conceit’, but it didn’t reduce the enjoyment we got from this book. I just prepared for my first grader to ask for their meaning. My sons loved this story, asking me to read it again and again!

Suitable for lower primary school students and preschoolers, it is a good one to read aloud, and listen to the rhythmic flow of the text.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Very Best of Friends by Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas

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IMG_3948The Very Best of Friends by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Julie Vivas, paperback picture book, first published by Margaret Hamilton Books in 1989, this edition published by Scholastic Australia Pty Limited in 2004.

James and Jessie live on a farm with lots of animals, but only one cat, William. As James goes about his jobs on the farm, William goes with him, he curls up on his lap in the evenings and on the bed at night. And then James dies suddenly and Jessie falls deep into grief, shutting William out, letting him run wild and become mean, something he never was with James. To move forwards, Jessie must work on her friendship with William and regain his trust.

A poignant tale of friendship and loss, beautifully spun for younger children, The Very Best of Friends will touch your heart. It is a reminder that all relationships need work, and if you fail to tend them, they will wither, but with a little love, kindness and attention they might thrive again.

While the story is beautiful, the illustrations are distinctive and just gorgeous. I love the way that William is depicted, and how he changes from the well-tended cat to the wild thing he becomes after James dies.

The Very Best of Friends is suitable for primary school children. It is a book I read as a young child,  and I am now sharing it with my own children. This wonderful picture book can be used to start a discussion on the complicated issues of loss and grief, and that life must go on. Though something sad happens, the friendship that blooms between Jessie and William is lovely and inspiring. It is important to keep living your life even when you have lost someone, and I found this book to be helpful in explaining that to my children.

 

* The Very Best of Friends won the 1990 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Picture Book category.

 

Esau the Paw by Chris Gurney and John Bennett

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IMG_3819Esau the Paw by Chris Gurney and illustrated by John Bennett, paperback picture book, published by Scholastic New Zealand Limited in 2014.

Esau the Paw is a very fluffy cat, and very proud of his full fur coat. He also likes to explore the great outdoors, rolling through mud, climbing trees and squeezing under bushes. Unfortunately all that outdoor fun leads to many tangles and knots that just can’t be brushed out. A quick trip to the vet and Esau finds himself with rather less fur, and is highly embarrassed by it. Will it ever grow back?

Humourous rhyming text, an engaging story and charming illustrations makes Esau the Paw a very entertaining book. Perfect for reading aloud, Esau has delighted my kindergartner and my third grader equally. I am also quite taken with him. My grandmother’s elderly cat had to be shaved for the same reason, and the pictures of Esau match the reality perfectly. There is something innately amusing about a cat that only has a furry head with a fluffy pom pom on the end of their tail! Esau’s attempts to regrow his fur are also highly amusing, and I feel for him as his friends show off their own thick coats. Poor Esau!

Esau the Paw is quickly becoming a favourite in our home. We will be searching for more books by this wonderful Kiwi author in the future.

 

Cat and Mouse Cake

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I have made this cat and mouse cake a few times for the kids’ birthdays. It is quite easy and has been a big hit at birthday parties. I normally make butter or vanilla cakes, but A begged for chocolate cake, so I used some White Wings mixes to make the cakes.

Prior to icing.

Prior to icing.

The cat’s head is make with a round cake base, with another cake cut up to make the nose and ears. The mice are decorated cupcakes. I just cut a rough circle section for the nose, and then I sliced the piece of cake so that it was about half the depth. I attached it to the round cake using some white buttercream (vienna cream or frosting). I also used some buttercream to attach the triangular ears to the top of the round cake. I don’t worry too much about how the cake looks at this point because I know I will make it look nice with the frosting!

There are lots of recipes around for buttercream, but I used one I found on taste.com.au, it was light and fluffy and very tasty.

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After applying white buttercream.

After applying grey buttercream.

After applying grey buttercream.

A asked for her cat to be grey and white, which is pretty easy. A little bit of black liquid food colouring added to the plain frosting gives a nice grey. As I was also icing the cupcakes in white and grey, I made up a triple batch of buttercream, and divided into two bowls, keeping one white and making the other grey. A double batch probably would have done it, but I’d rather have extra ready to go if needed, especially if I am using coloured buttercream, it’s so hard to get the colour to match if I have to make more.

I roughly added the white buttercream over the nose and to make the inside of the ears. Then I did the rest of the head in grey neatly, butting it up to where the white should end, and covering any excess white frosting along the way. To give the buttercream a bit more texture, I used the flat side of a butter knife’s blade to slap against the buttercream, causing little peaks to form. I did this all over the grey areas, while keeping the white fairly smooth. The kids thought it looked more like fur that way.

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IMG_2377In the end, I decided that I wanted the white to extend a bit further down to encompass the mouth more, so I added some more white buttercream from the nose down. This gave me more room to apply the mouth and nose. The nose and tongue are half a pink marshmallow each, while the eyes are smarties. A chose the pink ones, though I suggested blue or green! The rest of the facial features are drawn on with writing icing. These little tubes are very handy and easy to use.

IMG_2411IMG_2421To make the cute little mice cupcakes, I iced half the batch with grey buttercream and half with white buttercream. The ears are made from pink or white marshmallows cut in half. Each half is placed on top of the cupcake so that the sticky cut edge is facing forwards. The eyes are shiny cachous and the whiskers, nose and tails are added using the writing icing. I had thought about using liquorice strips for the tails, but I am the only one in my family that likes liquorice, so it seemed like a bit of a waste.

Shiny cachou lollies.

Shiny cachou lollies.

The cat’s head was placed in the centre of the pre-prepared board (a piece of plywood covered in foil), and the mice cupcakes were arranged on either side. I only used eight of the mice on the board. The extras did not go to waste though, the kids finished them off quite quickly.

Unfortunately, before the cake could be unveiled at the party, Baby T leant across it and smooshed a couple of the mice and the cat’s nose. The kids didn’t care, they still gobbled it up!

 

Sleep Tight, Ginger Kitten by Adèle Geras and Catherine Walters

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IMG_2447Sleep Tight, Ginger Kitten by Adèle Geras and illustrated by Catherine Walters, paperback picture book, first published by Little Tiger Press in 2001, this edition published by Ice Water Press in 2001.

The sleepy little ginger kitten is looking for a place to nap. He gets disturbed in the bathroom, and on the bed, the box is too small and the shoes too lumpy, will he ever find a cozy and comfy place to sleep?

This picture book is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children, and is just perfect for kitten and cat lovers. The ginger kitten is extremely cute, and the book is beautifully illustrated throughout. I can remember my cats acting just like this when they were only kittens. Kittens are beautiful and funny creatures, and this story reflects their behaviour well. It reminds me of how lovely it is to have a sleepy kitten curled up on my lap purring. Sleep Tight, Ginger Kitten has been a favourite for both my kitten loving daughters from about three years old.