How To Talk to Your Cat is a fabulous book. While it was meant for children, to explain their cat's behavior, I really learned a lot. The book is very attractive. The cover illustration is larger than life and somewhat childlike. It is bright yellow with a large cat smiling in the center. The cover would entice a child to open it up and take a look.
The rest of the illustrations are similar. They are sketches of cats, showing the different meanings of the positioning of their whiskers, legs, ears, tails, and the like. The book also illustrates how to respond to cats and speak to them in their own language; body language. The tone is friendly, informative and fun. It makes communication with cats more manageable and possible. The facial expressions on the cats make the book pleasant and imaginative.
It is interesting to read about the history of how the cat was domesticated. The style is simple, yet packed full of information. It is written at a child's reading level, but any adult would enjoy it. When quoting the cat, the author uses terms that children use today. "A lashing tail is anger" (George 17). A child can easily identify with this statement.
I believe this makes children identify with cats, to feel like they are peers. This would make the transition smoother, of adding a cat to a home. There is no distinction between fact, opinion and theory but the author makes it clear that the information is correct. The style and language is appropriate for younger people, but also well suited for adults.
I laughed aloud when I read, "As all people who are owned by cats know, cats have a way of sitting right where you are reading or writing" (George 23). The tone enabled me to enjoy the book regardless of the defined target age group. The text is outlined in a logical sequence. It is punctuated with pictures and sketches that enhance the storyline. The style of text matches the sketches, as it looks to be comic sans font. There are a couple of subheadings that break up the subject areas.
There are page numbers, but no table of contents or indexes. There is no reference to resources for this book. It seems to be a narrative that is based on instinct as well as fact. The author has won a Newbury Award and is well known for her books on nature and animals. I think it is widely accepted that she is an authority in this area.
The book does not submit to stereotypes, as the author shows the cat's mean / angry side as well. George does a nice job of identifying the cat's predatory nature and cautioning the readers to beware of certain warning signs in behavior and body language. Koko's Kitten is a story about a gorilla that had a cat for a pet. This book concentrates on showing how gorillas communicate. I chose this book because it also shows the cats ability to love another living being, no matter the species.
This is a book I read as a child and thoroughly enjoyed. It made me want to have a kitten, more than anything else. The cover is a photograph of a huge gorilla holding a tiny kitten like a baby. It entices and attracts anyone to open and browse.
The story is about Koko; a gorilla that has a pet cat named All Ball. The book shows Koko's progress as she learns American Sign Language (ASL) and "mothers" All Ball. When a car hits her baby, the text profoundly illustrates the despair and heartbreak for everyone involved. When I read, "Ten minutes later, I heard Koko cry. It was her distress call-a loud, long series of high-pitched hoots" (Patterson), I felt like crying. The story captivates and entrances.
As this is a true story, from the author's real life experience, the authenticity is not in question. The setting is in The Gorilla Foundation, which lends credibility and could be easily verified. The book is geared toward six to nine year olds and fits that age group appropriately. There is a logical sequence to the story that shows the love between cat and gorilla. There are no headings or subheadings.
The photographs are real and accurately depict the focus of each page of text. The pages are not numbered and there is neither index nor table of contents. The book is a simple story about the love between two of nature's children. Patterson writes, "When he was older, Ball snuck into Koko's trailer by himself" and "Ball was never afraid of her".
Those sentences reinforce the love described in this story. The author is credible as she holds a PhD focusing on the language abilities of animals and is Koko's primary caretaker. The book lists The Gorilla Foundation as a resource and sites the foundations address and phone number. I'm sure the mechanical details are accurate, as ASL is a universal language. The photographs show the genuine love between All Ball and Koko. They lend a certain emotional support to the story.
There are no stereotypes depicted, however the author does caution the reader about the preferred behaviors of both cats and gorillas. The Cat Family is a very difficult book to read. The cover looks very academic and would not beckon me to investigate. Red is used as the main cover color and does not seem to be very welcoming. Red is the color of anger and therefore distracts from any welcoming feeling it could have had. The cover illustrations are nice.
There is one drawing of a cat during the Egyptian times and more recent photograph of two domestic cats. They are nice and could have enhanced the cover if laid out differently. While it says it is geared toward young children, it contains advanced vocabulary and complex sentences. The book covers the history of domesticated cats, different types, habits, how to care for them and the cats place in legends. It is very informative, but was written in the 70's and some of the information is out of date.
Nash states that, "cats cannot be taught tricks as dogs can" (10). That is untrue, as my cat plays "catch" and quacks like duck on command. It is not a particularly interesting read for a child. An adult would find it more readable. There is an appropriate distinction between fact, theory and opinion. The subheadings indicate the topic focus for the page.
The layout is logical and flows well. There is a combination of text, pictures and drawings to depict each subtopic. They are well done and complementary to the subject matter. Some are in cartoon form, while others are very detailed drawings. They are beautiful and interesting. The pages are not numbered but each 2-page layout has a number and only one topic.
There is an index on the inside of the back cover and a glossary of unfamiliar terms. There is no evidence supporting the text but it seems to be credible. Much of the information contained in the book is similar to that of other books. There are no stereotypes that I can find as there are few humans depicted in the illustrations. There are photographs two veterinarians, however one is male with glasses and the other is female.
Word Count: 1271
George, Jean Craighead. How to Talk to Your Cat. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
Kobrin, Beverly. Eyeopeners II. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
Nash, Sue. The Cat Family. Ed. Ronald Rid out. London: Purnell, 1977.