Monday, September 12, 2011


The kids and I enjoy stories involving monsters, ghosts, witches, etc., and we're already getting excited for Halloween. Recently we read a hilarious book written and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer called Socksquatch.

There isn't much to this story, as Socksquatch, and his fellow-monster friends, are people of few words. But the few words used are well-chosen, and along with Dormer's simple, child-like illustrations, they create a rich running gag that my kids giggled through from beginning to end.

Poor Socksquatch has cold feet, but only one sock. He goes on a bit of a rampage, much like a toddler in search of comfort. Visiting his monster friends one by one, he asks, "Got sock? Foot cold." But Wayne (a werewolf) has no sock, just fur. Frank sloooowly responds that he has a sock and is happy to share, but because this monster has such big feet, the sock doesn't fit our furry friend. He trips on the over-large garment. This results in a screaming fit as Socksquatch expresses his dismay, again in a rather child-like fashion, arms in air, tears flying ("AAAAAAAAAAA!"). Martin (a mummy), hears the commotion and comes to see how he can help, dragging along the damsel he was terrorizing at the moment. He of course has no sock to offer, but Damsel, who is one heck of a good sport, comes to the rescue of the monster in distress. In the end we see Socksquatch happy at last--for now. Kids will delight in the twist that foreshadows another tantrum somewhere on the horizon. Dormer's other books, as listed on his web site, look as giggle-inducing as this one, so I'll be on the look out for them on our next trip to the library.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Cavalcade of Cats: The Cat Who Walked Across France

Next up on our list of cat-related books is The Cat Who Walked Across France, written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben.

Filled with charming, colorful paintings, this book tells the story of an un-named, dainty grey and white cat who lived a peaceful, companionable life with an old woman in a cottage by the sea. Sadly, his woman dies and all of her possessions are shipped away. The cat is forgotten and very lonely. He becomes a stray and roams from place to place. We see France through the cat's perspective, and experience how loneliness feels slightly different from one environment to another, farm to city, park to bridge. We also see how he survives, always moving, always in search of the happiness he once knew in the cottage by the sea. Eventually, he makes his way back to that stone cottage, and walks inside the open door to curl up and rest. When he awakens he finds that the cottage is now inhabited by a kind family with two small children, who are delighted to find the stray and give him food and affection. Unbeknown to them, the cat has found home again, in more ways than one.

This is a poetic, vividly descriptive tale that explores loss, healing, and what makes a house a home. Children will learn that experiencing loss, and learning to love again, is very much a journey--one that is sometimes lonely and difficult. But if one perseveres and keeps hope alive, happiness can be found again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Cavalcade of Cats: Mr. Pusskins

My kids love cats, so it's not unusual for us to read books about them, as you could tell from my previous post on Halloween Cats. Over the next few days I thought I would share some of the more memorable cat-related books we've read recently.

In our latest batch from the library, we have a book written and illustrated by Sam Lloyd called Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story. This book is worth your time if only for the amusing illustrations of the constantly cross Mr. Pusskins, a shaggy, chubby, rather spoiled ginger cat with a trouble-making streak. Emily, his little girl, absolutely loves him, as evidenced by her ample attention. She is always playing with him, brushing his fur, reading him stories in bed at night and telling him what a handsome boy he is. None of this sits well with Mr. Pusskins, who finds Emily, and his life with her, boring and annoying. He wants more from life, and decides to go after it one night by running away. At first he has a glorious time indulging in all sorts of naughty activities, but in time, a life without a nice warm house to go to at night and someone to give him genuine affection wears thin. He realizes that he should have appreciated Emily and the life he had. A surprise and a choice to be more humble and grateful lead Mr. Pusskins to redemption, and there is a satisfying happy ending. This is a funny story that gently teaches children to return kindness and be thankful for what they have. I've since learned that there are sequels, and I definitely intend to share them with my kiddos.