In this sweet story about the importance of generosity, a family of cats tries to learn why their human companion seems upset and how they can help her.
Elderly Mrs. Katz lives with ten loving, opinionated cats: Gumshoe, Bogart, Pajamas, Jellyroll, Ms. Purr, Jitterbug, Southpaw, Dizzy, Picasso, and Powderpuff. One day the cats notice that Mrs. Katz is spending a lot of time staring out the window, and they decide to discover what’s troubling her. They soon realize she’s staring at the trees and the falling snow.
When Mrs. Katz takes out her yarn and starts knitting, they can’t figure out what she’s making. Once she finishes her project and takes the knitting outside, the cats are surprised and touched to see her putting homemade sweaters on the trees in her yard, seemingly to keep them warm.
Bob McElheney’s clever writing style injects humor into the story. Each cat’s personality fits its name: e.g., Gumshoe fancies himself a private eye; Pajamas loves to nap; Jellyroll loves sugar. The colorful, eye-catching illustrations help readers distinguish among the cats, and kids will enjoy picking them out. Children will also appreciate that the cats care about Mrs. Katz, thinking of her as more than a mere provider of food and yarn.
However, while the illustrations are generally appealing, the first two are almost identical. Toward story’s end, an illustration depicting Mrs. Katz pulling sweaters in a wagon contradicts the accompanying text.
Additionally, the text is dense, which will likely be off-putting for young readers; at one point, 12 pages of text pass without an illustration. And while the language is endearing, it’s also repetitive, as the cats parrot and reinforce each other’s comments.
The title is a missed opportunity, as it doesn’t mention cats, except as the pun in Mrs. Katz’s name.
Some revision would enhance the story’s appeal. Nonetheless, this book could please children and families who like cats, mysteries and witty banter.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.