Title: Here Comes Teacher Cat
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Claudia Rueda
Published: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017
Have you ever met a kid who’s really obsessed with a particular animal? My older daughter, Vivi, adores lemurs. She currently has a lemur troop of ten cheerful ring-tailed stuffies. We own any lemur-related books on the market. Vivi knows more about lemurs than most adults. She was the go-to primate expert in her kindergarten class. Take home lesson: lemurs are pretty neat.
My younger daughter, Lily, doesn’t care all that much about lemurs. Her heart was won over early by a now-extremely-ratty-stuffed cat named M’Mow. She is slightly obsessed with my best friend’s three patient cats and my brother’s one very fluffy cat. She loves cat everything. She would love to have a real cat for a pet, but horrible cat allergies (mine) prevent that from happening (until she moves out and becomes a total cat-lady).
When I first saw the “Cat” series, I knew the books would appeal to Lily. What I didn’t count on was how much the rest of us would love them. Most notably, my mom. (She asks to read these to the girls anytime they request a book. I don’t know what it is, but Cat just speaks to her.) The entire series is fantastic, but seeing as it’s almost summertime, I’m going to look specifically at Here Comes Teacher Cat today.
There are a few things you should know about Cat:
1. He’s not a super-active cat. He’s…well…kinda lazy, really.
2. He ‘talks’ using signs. They look like the ones you might see on a picket line (wooden stick, poster board), and they’re very entertaining. (Truth time: my favourite Cat book is Valentine’s Cat. The signs in that one are hilarious!)
3. Cat isn’t naturally giving or caring, but he can be talked/forced/coerced into it. (Kind of like kids!)
In this story, Cat’s substitute teacher services are required at Kitty School. His schedule is pretty packed (9:00- nap, 10:00 – nap, 11:00, nap…), so he initially refuses to help out. When the narrator reminds him of all the nice things Miss Melba, the teacher, has done for him, Cat relents. After a false start (putting a cardboard cutout of himself in the classroom and sleeping under the teacher’s desk), he’s off to the races. And he does a great job! Cat turns out to be a natural teacher. Sure, his music class is more loud than melodic and his paw-painting makes the entire classroom a multi-coloured mess, but his fish-fountain is tops!
In the end, Cat learns (of course) that Kitty School is fun…and that KITTIES are fun! And the kitties learn to…talk with signs!
The writing in the Cat books is excellent. Every single one is really fun to read aloud (this is so key)! The pictures are absolutely perfect. Claudia Rueda has done a stellar job capturing Cat’s disgruntled expressions and bewildered glances. My favourite two pages are the one with Cat in bed (the narrator is trying to wake him up, and he holds up a sign that displays him sleeping in bed) and the one where he paw-paints with the kitties. The colours are so lovely and bright. I wouldn’t mind too much if my classroom looked like that!
We are always on the lookout for new Cat books. We have all of them so far and they are in frequent rotation at our house. If you have a cat-fan at home, Cat will not disappoint. He will only delight!
Mama’s review: A+
Vivi’s review: “I liked the fish fountain. Would that actually work in reality?”
Lily’s review: “CATS!”