Francine by Kelly Ulrich

Francine by Kelly Ulrich

I love ghost stories, especially because humans freak out when they see a ghost.  Loads of fun to see them run in the opposite direction!  Imagine my delight when I stumbled on this story of a girl ghost name Francine who lives in an rickety old house with no one to play with or talk to. This makes me sad because cats love to play.  But all this is due to change when a moving van arrives one day with a family and a baby, named Jenny.  Francine is delighted…because now she might have to someone to talk with.  She finds herself comforting the crying baby, and turns out to be an awesome babysitter,  giving her gifts, such as an old rocking horse.

As Jenny grows older, the two of them become good friends, sharing secrets and playing together.  One day, Francine says to Jenny, “Can you keep a secret?  Jenny assures her ghosty friend that she can, and Francine leads her down the basement stairs, showing her a door under the stairs.  She opens the door, and leads Jenny to the very back of the room. Francine pulls  aside some ratty wallpaper and two of them crawl through a small opening into a small room.  Jenny looks in amazement as the toys in there….because all of them are from a 100 years ago. Jenny sees worn out storybooks, old ratty dolls, and pretty clothes from yesteryear.  (Cats would be in seventh heaven in this kind of room….so many toys to play with!)  Francine and Jenny spend many hours playing in their secret hiding place.

But girls have a way of growing up, and one day Francine sees, a “For Sale” sign in the front yard, as Jenny and her family move out of the home.  Years pass.  The roof begins to leak, the grass grows long and tangled, and rotting fruit falls to the ground. And then one day, Francine peeks out the window and to her great surprise, she sees a car drive up and a young woman with a baby boy in her arms.  And guess who it is?  Jenny has grown up and is now a mother herself.

Humans come and go, but ghosts (and  cats) are forever.


No Kiss for Mother by Tomi Ungerer

No Kiss for Mother by Tomi Ungerer

Gawd, I love this cat, Piper Paw.  He is such a trouble-maker.  He throws an alarm clock out  window which smashes the windshield of his dad’s car.  (Pop’s is a supervisor at a rat-processing plant.)  He  refuses to brush his teeth, or wash his face, and reads soggy comics behind a closed and locked bathroom door.  He crumples the clothes that his mother has neatly laid out for him,  because he doesn’t want to look like a “postcard kitty”.  But most of all, he hates being kissed by his mother. It makes him hiss at her.

He is such a vexing, mischievous kitten–which is my kind of cat. And the things he does at school.  He rarely does his homework, but his grades are good. (I sailed through both elementary and high school, by the seat of my furry pants…reading forbidden books about naughty cats, such as,  Lady Fluffy’s Lover.)  Piper Paw loves practical jokes which includes sprinkling catnip on all the other kitty students,  stuffing the teacher’s handbag with live spiders, and pouring glue down the girl kitties’ necks.  And don’t even get me going on what is in his locker:  fireworks, smoke bombs, and bobby traps; great tools to cause havoc in the class room.

On this one particular day Piper Paw gets into a huge fight with Jefferson Bully.  They bite and claw at each other, rolling around in the mud.  By the end of the fight half Piper Paw’s ear is gone and both are marched off to the school nurse.  The iodine and the stitching back of the ear cause yowls of pain.  To add to Piper’s misery, his mom, Mrs. Velvet Paw, decides to come by the school and take him out to lunch.  When she see him all stitched up she covers him with kisses….making Piper howl, “Kisses, kisses all the time.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want it.”  

But his embarrassment doesn’t end there.  The waiting taxi driver scolds Piper Paw for his outburst, and his kind, gentle, sweet mother slaps Piper, something she has never done before.  When mother and kitten reach the restaurant they are both silent.  The mole innards casserole remains untouched. Piper slinks out of the restaurant; returning to school,  and promptly empties his locker of stink bombs, fire works, and an awesome sling shot.  He sells his arsenal to fellow kitty cats.  He takes the money to the local florist buying a bouquet of yellow roses.  And with the promise of no more kisses, he proudly presents the pretty yellow flowers to his mom.  





The Three Robbers, by Tomi Ungerer

The Three Robbers, by Tomi Ungerer

A long, long time ago, three fearsome robbers with tall black hats, roamed all over the country-side.  They threw pepper in the horses’ faces to stop carrages and then chopped up the wheels with a bright red ax.    All the humans were scared to death and even the dogs ran away.  (Of course, if cats had been here, they would not have run away, but would have scratched out the eyes of the robbers.  Next time the author should consult me).  The robbers hid their loot in a cave, where they had trunks full of jewels, gold, and precious stones.  

But one day the robbers stumbled upon a carriage carrying only a small orphan girl, named Tiffany.  She was on her way to live with a wicked old aunt so was very happy to see the robbers.  But what’s a robber to do with a little girl?  They bundled her up, and took her to their cave of treasures and made soft bed for her.  Next morning she got up and stumbled upon all the treasure and asked what they intended to do with all their loot.  They didn’t have a clue.  

So the robbers set out to find unhappy and abandoned children, and took them to live in a beautiful castle which they had bought with their loot.  As the news spread all over the land, more and more children arrived on the doorstep, and were given shelter in the castle.  And they grew up, built a village, and lived happily ever after. 

 I have to say this is a really good ending.  In fact, I liked this story so much, that I decided to dress up like a cat robber as you can see from the photo.  Do you think I would scare humans with my mask?  I think so.  So maybe someday I will roam the land and rob and steal, so I can build a home with plenty of food for all the abandoned, hungry, and lost kittens

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo


I have always liked elephants–big gentle creatures with a long fat tail called a trunk that sticks out in front of their face.  This story takes place during something called World War II in a country called Germany, and a town called Dresden.  I learned that  humans like to fight more than cats…and they use big metal objects that go boom and that drop bombs on other humans.  Go figure.  At least when cats fight they only use their claws.  

Well it seems there’s this family and the mom of the family (the dad is off in place called the Russia fighting other humans) is a zookeeper who looks after a young elephant, named Marlene.  .  She has two children, a boy and girl.  Well there are rumors that their village of Dresden will be bombed so she gets permission to take the elephant to live in their backyard.  What fun!  Well guess what?  The rumors turn out to be true and bombs start falling, and she the kids start running with a big ole elephant.  Pretty decent humans if you ask me…because lord knows they sure attracted a lot of attention with an elephant lumbering beside them.     

They run and run and run.    They run for shelter to a relative’s abandoned farm house where they meet the “enemy,” a Canadian airman whose plane was shot down.  But he turns out to be a really nice guy.  But soon they must leave, so they run away from the roads, going through the woods, and Marlene has the greatest time frolicking in the streams and among the leaves.  They run during the night and away from the Russians who are chasing them.  They ran through rain, and mud, and frost, and Marlene, the gentle giant, keeps their spirits up, plodding along with them. 

Finally, they run to a large house, where a “countess” (I think a countess is some kind of special human), gives them shelter along with dozens of other humans who are running.  But they have to leave the house and run again, and this time they take along a children’s choir on their journey, the kids taking  turns riding on top of Marlene’s back as they run away from the enemy.    

But Marlene is so used of running, that one day when she runs into some tanks (tanks are big lumbering hulks of metal on wheels with a couple of humans inside driving them), she just keeps running and leaves her human friends behind.  

This was a pretty cool book, and fortunately, the human author made Marlene, the elephant, the star of the story–as well he should.  Because really the elephant saved the humans from death, keeping their spirits and protecting them as they ran from all sorts of enemies.  And what happened to Marlene you ask?  She finally stopped running when she joined a circus, making humans laugh as she had always done.  

Liberty Lion: by Michelle Knudsen

Liberty Lion: by Michelle Knudsen

Hey kids, my cousin, Mr. Lion, is the hero in this story.  One day, he wanders into a library, where the head librarian, a Miss Merriweather,  is very fussy about the rules.  You know that kind of human librarian I mean:  The one that says, “Don’t talk out loud,  walk don’t run.”  Cats, as you know, like to break the rules.

But what a bad ass and cool kitty cat Mr. Lion is.  He takes charge.  He walks over to the human children’s  story corner and promptly plops down on the floor, taking a nap, before waking up to listen to the story.   The next day he arrives early and dusts the books, licks the envelopes, and allows small children to climb on his back, so they can reach the books on high shelves.  No one knows quite what to do with Mr. Lion,  because you see there were no rules against lions being in the library.

One day Miss Merriweather tries to reach a book from a very high shelf, and falls to the floor. “Go get help,” Mr. Lion, she crys out.  Off the lion runs (even though the rule said, “no running in the library.”)  He discovers a Mr. McBee, another human librarian, and roars his loudest roar…Rooooarrrrrrrrr, hoping the dumb human will understand that a librarian has crashed to the floor and broken her arm.   “You broke the rules,” said Mr. McBee,  and Mr. Lion hung his head head shame and left the library.  And then he disappeared.

The next day, Mr. Lion did not show up for Story Hour. He did not help the librarian reshelve the books.  Mr. Lion wasn’t in the library to help children reach for top shelves to get books. Had Mr. Lion gone back to the jungle to chase antelope?  Perhaps, Mr. Lion had fallen off a cliff into the oceian?  So finally, one day in the pouring rain, Mr. McBee searches  all over the city to find the lion and finally found him outside the library looking in the windows.  There’s a new library rule, said Mr. McBee.  “No roaring allowed unless there’s a good reason.”  Because sometimes there’s a good reason to break the rules…even in the library. So Mr. Lion puts one heavy foot after another and walks back into the library.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

I’ve decided to tackle and review an adult human book, rather than PawReview just human children’s books.  I think it’s very appropriate to review a book on Norse mythology as one of my cousins, the Norwegian Forest cat, is a descendant from a Norse god, named Balder–which is a little known fact.  But more about that later

A long time ago there were 9 worlds populated by gods and goddesses with a few giants thrown in for good measure.  Thor (god of Thunder), Odin (a pretty wise dude), and Loki (a god generally up to no good) played major roles.  The gods were always fighting among themselves (or fighting the giants), pulling tricks on each other and changing themselves into other animals; falcons, fish, wolves. And nothing was as it seemed.  Thor pretty much did as he wanted (a common personality trait in cats).  He had a powerful belt, named Megingjord which doubled his strength, and a hammer named Mjollnir.  Supposedly, this hammer could level mountains and would hit whatever object Thor threw it at, no matter how poor his aim.   I really like Thor, but it sounds like he’s exaggerating about this “magic” hammer.  Oh well, I guess gods can get away with this kind of thing.


Goddesses also populated these worlds.   My favorite, Freya,  loved cats and two of the them pulled her chariot.  I kind of think she was a party girl and had lots of boyfriends at the same time, if you catch my drift, a fact Mr. Gaiman glossed over.

While Mr. Gaiman wrote a very engaging book, I must fault him for one major lapse.He barely mentioned the role of cats in Norse mythology.  Perhaps, he was so busy concentrating on humans that he missed cats’ role.  Perhaps humans left more paper documentation (cats tend to tear up paper and chew it).   Which brings me to the god, Balder.  Balder was handsome, adored by everyone, and loved the sun.   Cats, of course, practically worship the sun.

But he starts to have bad dreams, nightmares about the world ending; of darkness, of being trapped.  And then one day, Balder dies, killed by a mistletoe dart.  (Humans use mistletoe as an excuse to kiss each other.)  Everyone is very sad, because Balder was such a great god.  The animals are sad, even the trees, and the metals weep over his death.     And then things get very grim.  The world starts to fall apart.  Winter never ends.  The sun and rainbows vanish.  Brother fights brother.  There are earthquakes and floods, and an evil wolf with flaming eyes and nostrils.  (I never did like wolves…members of the dog family.)

But, but, the sun comes back; the earth turns green again and Balder comes back from the underworld, alive and smiling in the sunlight.  Because Balder was actually a cat, a Norwegian Forest cat.  And as everyone knows, cats have nine lives. There you have it, Mr. Gaiman.  Balder rises from the dead, using up one of his nine lives,  and helps bring about the new world.

Mr. Gaiman would do well to heed the wise words of Mr. Pratchett that are posted under my photo at the top.   Perhaps future editions of this book will include changes that herald the role of cats in Norse mythology.