winter’s fat, avian feast
loud feathered hot spot
beware, tasty treats
understory stalker waits,
tasty treats by Angie Quantrell
photo by Angie Quantrell
Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten
Written by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Two Lions (August 2020)
Oh, such adorable characters! I’m a cat fan, but cute little Clover takes kitties to a new level. I truly enjoyed reading Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, to myself and my grands (even the soon-to-be 6th grader was secretly listening). If you have a kitty, I mean child, beginning kittygarten this fall, however that looks in your town, reading this picture book will be the perfect activity to begin exploring and discussing all of the changes and anxieties of a new school experience.
I’m pleased to welcome Laura Purdie Salas, author of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten. After reading her new book, I reached out to Laura and invited her to visit my blog. Thank you for stopping by Laura! Happy book birthday!
I’m a former English teacher and copyeditor who’s been writing book for kids for (gulp) 20 years. Poetry and nonfiction mostly, but I have lots of stories inside, too. CLOVER’s my first pure fiction picture book! I’m also a game player, donut lover, and eager learner, and I love to walk and work at my treadmill desk.
I listened to the All the Wonders podcast where Matthew Winner interviewed Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant about their book, I Am (Not) Scared, several years ago. I wondered what was the most unlikely fear a child could have. Puppies! That’s what I thought of. Those morphed into kitties eventually—equally unscary!
I had to justify a character being afraid of puppies or kitties. Over the course of a year and a dozen or so drafts, I tried out many different conflicts and character traits for Clover. Was she anxious? Just used to doing things her own way? Strongly introverted? I learned a bit more about Clover with each draft, and eventually this evolved into a back-to-school story, and Clover became a kitty who experiences sensory overwhelm. So Clover sees a bunch of kitties on the playground at recess, for instance, as “a squealing tornado of fangs and fur.” As someone who is not great at making friends myself, and who also finds crowds overwhelming, I definitely see a bit of myself in Clover.
Oh, boy. It’s a rough year to release a book, isn’t it? In-person events were all canceled, of course. I did a virtual readaloud to some lovely kids through Gigi’s Playhouse (https://gigisplayhouse.org/gigisathome/), but that’s about it in real time. I devoted a bit of extra energy to making some printables to help teachers and families during this nerve-wracking back-to-school time. I’ve got puppets and activity sheets and a school countdown calendar—lots of things to celebrate friends and help kids think about what tools THEY need to make their back-to-school experience a great one! Or at least one with more ups than downs! And there’s been a super blog tour, which I’ve been so grateful for. I have links and excerpts on my site, along with all those printables, at https://laurasalas.com/clover/.
I’m learning that anxiety is something that can strike anytime. I’m usually upbeat and very practical. With the state of the world right now, however, author visits, book sales, book acquisitions—they are all taking a hard hit. Honestly, I’m worried about my writing career. So I’m gathering my own survival gear. I may not need earmuffs or sunglasses like Clover, but I’m digging deep to find the tools I can use to keep moving forward and making picture books—my favorite thing in the whole world.
Thank so much, Laura, for sharing your journey and your imagination in the form of Clover Kitty!
Here’s how to get in touch with Laura. Check it out – a Clover Kitty page with fun stuff!
CURIOSITY THRILLED THE CAT (214 words)
The most mysterious gift Pink received for Valentine’s Day was a shiny, heart-covered box.
But saving the best for last, Pink first snooped through the house, using her feline nose, super whiskers, and strong kitty body to locate other special day treats.
What’s in the bag? thought Pink.
“Meooowww, I smell kitty snacks.”
What’s under the bed? thought Pink.
“Yow-wlll! I want that catnip mouse.”
What’s on the table? thought Pink.
“Grrrrrr, I don’t like dog bones.”
What’s hanging over the chair? thought Pink.
“Roooaaarrr! Give me that yarn!”
What’s through the cat door? thought Pink.
“Pffttt. Go ahead, fly away flutter-by.”
Pink sat in the lovely sunshine, pausing to groom her soft fur. Stretching, she dug her claws into the door frame, a forbidden treat. But only if she got caught.
“Pink!” growled Mama Mauve. “Stop sharpening your claws.”
Putting on her best innocent face, Pink strolled back through the cat door.
There sat the most mysterious, shiny, heart-covered box Pink had ever seen.
And it was all hers.
What’s in my beautiful box? thought Pink.
“Mmmmm. A furry, fluffy, fantastic pink blanket for me!”
Time for a catnap thought Pink.
The pets we have. Let’s call them pasture pets.
Foo-Foo. Not technically our rabbit. Though I have recently informed my honey that this is my rabbit. Not rabbit soup. (No guarantees for others in the bunny market, as it were…coyotes, hawks, eagles, and other larger predators who roam freely. Like the playground cougar sighting at the school where 3 of my grands attend.)
Poor bunny Foo-Foo. Someone released him. Or he escaped. He is quite the digger, as evidenced by the ditch beneath our Mabel Gate. Or she. I feel like it is a he though.
Charcoal. Again, not our pet. I can’t even claim him, because he really belongs to the neighbors on the east side of the pasture. They would know if we adopted this funny guy. Also thought he was a she and hoped for a random egg now and then. But she began crowing all hours of the day. This daily visitor will either help our garden grow (by eating pests and fertilizing) or keep it from growing (by nibbling greens and digging up tender shoots). Either way, not our chicken.
Monet. This one is really our pet. She adores pasture life and voraciously hunts other pasture pets of the rodent and avian varieties. By our pet, I mean she sleeps in at night (to avoid cat/dog/coyote fights in the wee hours), we feed her on a regular basis, and pay her worming and vet bills. We used to have her twin sister, Mabel, until a pack of dogs decided she was snack worthy. Those dogs were definitely NOT our pets. And they are the reason we now have a Mabel Gate.
Ginger. Not our pet. Though we are doggy grandparents. She loves visiting us in the pasture. More for chasing the ball and occasional cat (Monet) or jumping in the ditch filled with mud and water. But still. If we would let her, she would visit inside the RV. What fun that would be! So. Though she is not our pet, technically, we have adopted her as a family member. Neighbor. Just over the fence.
Other “not our pets” include (but not restricted to) hawks, eagles, coyotes, skunks, goats, ducks, quail, geese, voles, mice, rats, woodpeckers, blue jays, magpies, doves, cats, dogs, frogs, snakes, water rats (I really don’t know what they are…but they are big and swim in the irrigation ditch), crows, worms, slugs, song birds, and lots and lots of insects.
Need a trip to the pasture zoo? Come spring, we will be open for business. I mean, the hibernators will be out and about, the frozen will thaw, eggs and litters will hatch, and who knows what else will spring to life. Bring a lawn chair and a camera. We’ll treat you to the habitats and adventures of Pasture Pets.
Our human pasture guests. (not pets)
second breakfast bath;
after canned dish, free range mouse,
and dry food chaser
second breakfast bath by Angie Quantrell
That’s our girl, Monet. First breakfast is half a can of Fancy Feast. After, she heads out to roam the pasture for a second breakfast on the hoof, er, paw. Next she takes a quick bath and chomps a few crunchy bits of dry food (to wash it all down?) and she is good for the morning.
Pardon the irreverent pose. She IS taking a bath . . .
Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing my review of Winter Cats by Janet Lawler. We all appreciate your willingness to find and share great information!
Head on over to Sally’s blog to read her blog lineup. Happy reading!
You can meet Sally here.
Written by Janet Lawler
Illustrated by Ela Smietanka
Albert Whitman & Company, 2019
I won a copy of Winter Cats by Janet Lawler from Writing and Illustrating, a blog by Kathy Temean, Janet Lawler, and Albert Whitman & Company. Thank you! I adore cats (and have one who believes she is queen of both indoor and outdoor realms).
There are so many new and wonderful books being released. I enjoy reading about them on a variety of blogs. Sometimes the blogs have giveaways. If one takes the time to read and comment about the new books, authors, or illustrators, your name is put into a hat. On good days, your name is pulled out. And TA-DA, a shiny new book appears in your mailbox! I love shiny new books in my mailbox.
I encourage you to support authors and illustrators by learning about their work and searching for their books at bookstores and libraries, two of my most favorite places to visit.
Why I love this book:
~ Cats! I love cats. I’ve nearly always had a cat or two in my life. Right now I have a cat who adores her daddy (not me). But that’s a different story.
~ Winter! Winter is a favorite season for me. The snow, the holidays, the expectant hope of new life in spring.
~ The story is told in rhyme. This is a lots of fun to read aloud to young readers.
~ The winter activities are the same ones we enjoy, but in Winter Cats, the cats enjoy them. Too adorable!
~ Indoor versus outdoor cats. I love both. This is a good problem for a main character to have. When our cats were forced to be indoor cats for a short time, there was no joy in our lives. They were monsters! I am glad Willy was able to sneak out and enjoy the outside.
~ I appreciate the nature activities and the characters getting outside. Nature is a very important theme to me.
~ Friendship is a main theme for Winter Cats. Willy makes new friends while he is outside. He invites them home to visit. These friends are responsible and clean up their mess. What great guests!
~ The colorful winter blue illustrations are perfect.
Willy’s an indoor cat who dreams of becoming an outdoor cat, but his parents tell him that indoor cats and outdoor cats are different. When he sees the outdoor cats having tons of wintery fun, he decides to sneak out and join in! Willy and his new outdoor friends soon learn that labels are meaningless in the face of friendship.
So if you love picture books, winter, cats, or rhyming, be sure to check out Winter Cats.
No. I’m not talking about the trail of mangled body parts, a bit of liver, a tiny furless skull, a cluster of feathers. Though walking through a feline hunting graveyard is not for the weak of heart. Quick steps and eagle-eyes are necessities.
I’m also not talking about the catch and release program of yesterdays when we had a kitty door. Catch a rat? Bring it inside and let it go. Find a rat in a trap? Bring in the decapitated corpse and play toss and catch in our bedroom in the middle of the night. Live bird? Shall we see the damage we can cause by releasing it in the living room. Not those downsides, though they are quite entertaining. One particular birthday will always be quite memorable because we all screamed, stood on the couch, and simultaneously hunted a terrified rat. With kitty help.
No, this downside I’m shuddering about today is what happens after a feline hunter is successful. I’m not sure about the total timeline, but a week or three after eating wild mice, mysteriously little bits of straw appear. No big, UNLESS they happen to be beneath the tail of said hunters. Or along back haunches. Then we have a problem.
Let’s all take a moment to scream EWWWW!
Can tapeworms be any more gross? I mean, sure, dead stuff is gross. But for the most part, they are not in my bed, on my couch, on the cat tree, littering blankets. Ick.
Miss Monet, resident exterminator and feline hunter extraordinaire, is a repeat offender. Last summer was our first encounter with ‘straw.’ I think I’ll call tapeworms ‘straw’ from now on. It’s less offensive. Straw sounds nice and cozy, like in chicken coups or horse stalls.
Last summer, I noticed straw on Monet’s backside. We scheduled a vet visit, particularly after some straw was moving. Once confirmed by the vet, Monet was duly treated for a straw infestation. And a nice little vet bill we received from that visit. Cha-ching.
The silver lining of this mouse and cat game, the coup de grace of being a hunter of mice, is the benefit of repeat offenders getting a free pass from visiting the vet. Little did I realize how this law would line the pockets of my wallet with a lower bill for removing a straw infestation.
December. Again with the straw. AGAIN.
We called in and they advised us to come on over and get a dose of straw medicine.
End of January, beginning of February, we saw warm spring-like weather. And mice. Oh, mighty huntress Monet was witnessed gobbling some poor hapless rodent. We thought nothing of it. She had just been treated for straw.
And then. Snowmageddon. Everything was snow and ice locked. No hunting, no fun runs through the pasture, no live prey of any type. Until this week.
I kid you not. This week. We still have piles of snow! But plenty of open range greening up areas RIPE with straw infested rodents. Opening day for Monet included 2 voles, 1 mouse, and 2 birds.
You can guess, can’t you? Today I welcomed Monet into the house and noticed straw on her backside. Noooooooooo…
Yes……. Back to the vet I went for straw medicine. Which, apparently, only lasts 30 days. Is there not something that lasts LONGER than 30 days? This is going to get expensive, this live rodent extermination.
The answer was no.
So, if you need some rodent control, let’s make a bargain. $25 bucks a pop for the good stuff. Maybe needed once a month. Rent-a-cat for one month will cost you. And me.
Back to vacuuming and washing blankets. Which I just did last week before we discovered straw.
And you? Do you have a problem with straw infestations?