Thursday, September 7, 2017

Little Cat's Luck by Marion Dane Bauer

Just over a year ago I read Little Dog Lost and while I was reading some reviews I discovered the companion volume - Little Cat's Luck.  I wanted to buy it for my school library straight away but the hardcover was quite expensive so I decided to wait.  Today the paperback copy arrived in our library and I have just read it.


I have just let out a huge sigh of happiness.  This little book is epitomizes why I adore reading books for young children.  Reading Little Cat's Luck you will also discover why verse novels are so very special.

Patches, the little cat, is looking out the window of her home when she sees a leaf fall from a tree. She reaches out to to catch the leaf and finds herself outside when the window screen gives way. Patches is not frightened of the sudden freedom.  She has in fact been searching for a special place.

But if she didn't know
what her special place was for,
she knew exactly
what it would be like.
Hidden away,
quiet ...
very, very quiet.

Not far from her home there is a dog.  His name is Gus and he is living a lonely life behind a high fence. He barks at everyone and this makes him feel powerful but deep inside he misses his boy and his former life inside the house.

Patches hears Gus barking.  She goes to investigate and discovers her special place is in his yard - it is his kennel.  Very late that night she sneaks under the wire fence and snuggles into the empty dog house very aware that Gus could wake up from his spot on the porch.  Patches feels some odd little movements deep inside and she calls for help.  Gus arrives just as the first kitten is born.

Gus was gazing at her baby
as though at a miracle,
so she said
'Perhaps you would like
to name him."

And so three kittens are born that night - named Moonshadow (Gus choose that one), Little Thomas (Patches choose that one) and Gustina (a friendly squirrel thought of this name).

There are three endings to this story.  The babies are born and everyone is safe but Patches misses her girl.  When she finds her girl Patches becomes trapped again in her house.  She does escape but when the cat and kittens are bought home it is Gus who is in despair. With a very light touch and a perfect colloquial style Marion Dane Bauer settles everything neatly for a perfect (happy) ending.

Here is my favourite quote from this book :

You see,
the main ingredient
for happiness -
for dogs
as well as for humans - 
is having someone
to love.

I would follow Little Cat's Luck with an old Aussie Nibble title Crusher Kevin by Penny Matthews.  Here is a brief teaching guide.  Listen to the author.  The Texas Blue Bonnet award page has other useful links.

Bauer is a master of that skill and crafts, with remarkably little text, memorable, fully understandable characters with achingly real worries and sorrows.  Kirkus Star review

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