“An Elephant in the Garden” book written by Michael Morpurgo

“An Elephant in the Garden”
book written by Michael Morpurgo

PawReview by TeddyBoy Sinclair

 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” book written by Michelle Knudsen & illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

“Liberty Lion”
book written by Michelle Knudsen & illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

PawReview by TeddyBoy Sinclair

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.

Never Drink Alone (Pet Beverage Review)

Never Drink Alone
(Pet Beverage Review)

PawReview by TeddyBoy Sinclair

Humans apparently do not like to drink alone—and neither do cats.  We will even lower our standards to drink, dare I say, with a dog (if there are no humans around).  Well what do you know.  There’s this company (Woof and Brew)  “across the pond,” (that’s how humans talk when they describe this kingdom, called “Great Britain”) that makes beer, wine–and hangover tonics for cats and dogs. So you can even share a hangover cure with your human.

I invited my doggy friend, TommyBoy,  to share a beer called, “Bottom Sniffer,” a beverage for dogs with healthy stuff like iron and iodine.  After drinking a few bottles, we bragged about how many fish we each caught (I beat him of course, as dogs are pretty lousy fishermen).  TommyBoy bragged that he was better at chasing cars, but who in their right mind would chase a car?  I lost that one.  We also boasted about our respective love lives, and I think we all know who came out ahead in this arena.  TommyBoy drank far too much beer so I had to share the hang-over tonic that got rid of his doggy breath and made him feel better.

There’s even a wine for dogs AND CATS called “Pawsecco, ” made up of elderflower, nettle, ginseng, and lime flower. (Unfortunately, my clueless caretaker did not buy me a bottle of wine.  Very thoughtless of her.)  I understand after drinking a few glasses of this elixir, you feel like you’re in charge of the world.

Woof and Brew even makes an herbal tonic, called “Windy Hound” that helps get rid of unpleasant orders that erupt from a dog’s rear end.    Or as the company says, “a  few caps a day keeps the farts away.”  (Cats rarely fart, and if they do, their farts smell like lavender on a sweet summer day.)

If you can persuade your care taker to buy some of these items (or steal their credit card and buy all by yourself), go to woofandbrew.com

A Post-Modern Painting of the Pear An Object that Represents our Relationship with the Chaotic World

A Post-Modern Painting of the Pear
An Object that Represents our Relationship with the Chaotic World

PawReview by TeddyBoy Sinclair

I’ve decided to spread my wings and critique paintings made by humans.  A painting is where a human puts dabs of color on something called a “canvas,” white scratchy material stretched over slivers of wood.  They call this “art.”

I’m staring at a painting by Madam Butka that features pears.  It’s a wonderful piece and so skillfully executed that you can almost smell the fruit.  I find that the metaphorical resonance of the succulent pears verges on codifying how accessible her work is. 

The pear is neither the object of objecthood, nor  the art-object.  It is rather the oblique object of her intentions.  She is an advocate of the Erotic Fruit aesthetic and the colorful representation of the sexy pears which threatens to penetrate caverns, explores the realms of chaos and heartbreak.

However, Madam Butka omitted one important element in her painting:  the feline element.  Her painting suffers from the lack of the puss theme which permeates our world, our lives, yea, even our senses and centers on an interest in the universality of our biological landscape.  She needs to catify her painting.   (Yes, “catify” is a word I invented.  If BillyBoy Shakespeare can invent words, then TeddyBoy Sinclair can also invent words.)  Perhaps just a cat paw that extends into the bowl of pears; or the tip of a tail that slaps the side of the bowl.

Dr. Brenda Butka has had a long career as a people veterinarian practicing as a pulmonary specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  Not only is she an accomplished artist (although she needs to learn how to include the feline element in her paintings), but she is also a poet.  Her musings have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Annals of Internal Medicine, Threepenny Review, Florida Review, Slant, Cortland Review, and many other human poetry rags.

She currently lives somewhere in the Tennessee wilderness, whittling pencils to write poetry, and mixing pigments for her paintings.  She obtains her brushes from the feathers of a local chicken flock.

“Norse Mythology” written by Neil Gaiman

“Norse Mythology”
written by Neil Gaiman

PawReview by TeddyBoy Sinclair

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.

 

“Madeline Finn and the Library Dog” book written & illustrated  by Lisa Papp

“Madeline Finn and the Library Dog”
book written & illustrated
by Lisa Papp

PawReview by TeddyBoy Sinclair

It seems some human children have trouble reading books out loud.   The words sometimes get stuck in their mouth like peanut butter.  Or the human kids stumble and make funny mistakes when they pronounce the words.  So they hate  reading out loud.  Cats, of course never make mistakes when they read out loud, but that’s another story.

In this book, a little girl just can’t seem to get this reading out loud thing down.  Then  one day a librarian makes a dynamite suggestion.  Why not read to a dog, a big fluffy white dog.  Well, by golly, who knew that a dog could help humans read.out loud?  At first, the little girl stumbles over the words, and gets letters mixed up, but Bonnie (that’s the name of the dog) just sits there and listens and never, never criticizes.  Sometimes Bonnie puts her big paw on the little girl’s lap to help her.  Well, guess what?  Next time the little girl reads in the classroom, she does just fine and the teacher gives her a gold star.

Well, I thought I would try out this method too.  You see I have a friend, a dog named Hope, who can’t read out loud either.  So I thought if humans can read to dogs and improve their reading skills, why can’t cats help improve a dog’s reading skills?  Well, let me try and be kind.  Dogs are not the brightest bulbs in the universe. Nope, not at all.   When I gave Hope the book about the Library Dog to read out loud, do you know what she did?  She thought the book was a hat and put it on her head!  I’ve got to remind myself that when it comes to improving dogs’ reading abilities, it is not an easy task!