Continuing the rat/cat theme, this is one of my all time favourite picture books.
Why is it a favourite? Well it’s unusual in that it is told in the first person (rare for picture books) and is a long text. It is essentially the story of Romeo and Juliet, albeit with a happy ending (or one without deaths anyway, as the ending is open ended).
The story is about two rival gangs of cats who live on the edge of a city, and what happens when Amber, a black and white cat, and Monty, a ginger, fall in love. The gang leaders decide to banish them and their fighting resumes. One day they return with their litter of kittens. It all seems perfectly straightforward – the leaders decide to split the kittens up, black and whites with ‘their kind’ and the gingers with the same. What about the fifth kitten though – Tiger, who is mixed race?
It is told from the point of view of a rat. You absolutely have to read it with a New York accent – well, that’s how I have always envisaged it anyway:
‘Cats fighting. I love it! I mean, when they’re fighting each other, they’re not coming after me. See? Or my kind. My kind? Well, you could say we’re a bit like mice. OK, a little bigger. But just as cuddle. I’m a rat. Hey! Don’t go. Listen up. I’ve got a story for you…’
See. This is totally a Brooklyn tale.
The Rat – aka The Whisperer – is a great character and the tale is much more interesting because it is seen through his eyes.
I chose this because it’s rare in style and content and very, very good. Particularly good for young readers who love a long story, and for older children learning to read. Check it out if you haven’t already.