First published in 1978, this is a book I well remember from my own childhood. It’s simple, fun, repetitive and rhyming, what’s not to love?!
The narrator’s cat likes to hide in boxes, whilst the cats of the world are up to much more skilful and interesting things.
The cat from Spain
Flew an aeroplane.
The cat from France
Liked to sing and dance.
But MY cat likes to hide in boxes.
On each new page, the list of the other cats is repeated with one new cat being added each time. Clever cats from all over the world are compared to the narrator’s box-loving cat.
Why I love it:
I guess the first thing I love about this book is that it transports me back to childhood. We had this book on our shelves and must have read it hundreds of times! It’s a lot of fun and there are loads of activities you can do whilst reading:
- You could try to memorise the order of countries
- You could try to memorise the activities from each country
- You could try to memorise the whole list – with you just adding the new cat and asking your child to recite the text from the previous pages
- You could leave off the rhyming words and have your child fill the blanks.
- You could prepare a performance of the book
- You could read the story as a rap or chant.
- You could research the country from your child’s favourite page.
- You could add another cat and country of your own – making sure to continue the rhyme.
- You could prepare a mock interview after reading: “So madam, what exactly does the cat from Spain, do?” – this would be a fun, but excellent comprehension task.
- You could write out the words, but leave off the rhyming words and ask your child to fill them in.
There are so many ideas for this simple story and I guess that’s another reason I love it!
Themes to discuss with your child:
- Personal preferences and differences
- Countries of the world
- The art of ‘simple’ – how sometimes less is more
Questions to ask your child:
- What do you think this book might be about?
- Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
- Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
- What is one word you could use to describe the look on the cat’s face, on the cover of the book?
- Who illustrated this book? Is her name familiar? Do the illustrations look familiar?
- Do you like cats? Why/why not?
- Did you enjoy the rhyming and repetition in the book?
- Can you remember any of the cats and what they did? Which ones?
- Which cat was your favourite? Why?
- Can you remember which cat joined the police?
- Can you remember which cat caught a very bad chill?
- What does the cat from France like to do?
- If you were a cat, what do you think you’d like to do?
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