Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cat Cuteness Conquers

Not being a cat person does not prevent me from being well aware of their distinctive personalities.  Over the years, once permission was granted by the creatures in question, several friends have had feline companions.  Even a true-blue dog person like me is unable to resist the lure of a kitten.

What is important to remember is those tiny beings and their human counterparts have a lot to learn about what they can and cannot do or have.  No, No, Kitten! (Boyds Mills Press, an imprint of Highlights, March 3, 2015) written by Shelley Moore Thomas with illustrations by Lori Nichols follows a tenacious mischief-maker.  This little bundle of fur is paws-itively determined.

Kitten wants a basket.
Kitten wants a pillow.
Kitten wants a blanket.
Kitten wants...

Oh!  No! Kitten is not allowed to have a puppy.  Puppies are for people not cats.  (Guess who climbs in the window?)  Not one to rest for a single second, Kitten is on the move again.

A glass of milk, a catnip plant and an innocent goldfish are the next conquests on this kitten's agenda.  A puddle, a pile of potting soil and an empty fishbowl are signs of recent visits. (You'll be pleased to note the new residence of the fish.)  Mimicking her girl, Kitten decides to don the fishbowl as if it's a helmet.  This is not acceptable.

As Kitten continues exploring for more appropriate playthings, a trip into the girl's bedroom for

engines, gadgets, and lasers

is met with stern disapproval.  Using up all her feline maneuvers she makes a fourth demand, an adventure beyond the confines of Earth's atmosphere.  With patience matching persistence, the girl instructs Kitten in those objects which may be possessed and those which may not.

Before the girl can grasp Kitten's next plan, a countdown begins.  As the number one is reached, an enormous noise erupts from the room.  Out the window flies Kitten and the puppy bound for the planets and stars.

New frontiers are reached.  Back at home Kitten and her girl are startled with an expectant


When one sees the accomplishments of another, you never know what will happen next.

Readers may not know it but Shelley Moore Thomas is using her gift for storytelling to involve them in this narrative.  She creates constant invitations for us with Kitten wanting three items, and then with a page turn a fourth is revealed.  Each of these is followed by the repetitive exclamation and series of nearly identical phrases.  Once she has us firmly captivated in this rhythm, she really sends us into orbit with a couple of twists; one of which even has Kitten looking wide-eyed.  Here is a sample passage.

No, no, no, Kitten.
You cannot have a puppy.
You are a cat!
Cats do not have pets! 

The combination of the title and look in Kitten's eye, as the fish flies from the bowl and a letter is moved with a tail swish on the dust jacket and matching book case, declare this title to be one filled with action.  On the back, to the left, Kitten is portrayed in a series of rascal-like situations.  The opening and closing endpapers in stark white are patterned with different items of importance to the story.

With a page turn we see on the left a Spudnik, a potato sprouting legs and a leaf, wearing a first prize blue ribbon.  Beneath the title the girl is completely absorbed in one of her science projects with Kitten peeking out from the inside of the spaceship box.  The publication information and dedication pages feature an illustration, spanning edge to edge, of the inside of the house.  Kitten is resting in a chair as the puppy climbs up on the sill of the open window.

Lori Nichols rendered these lively pictures using dip pen and ink and coloring digitally.  She alters the image sizes between a full page, a series of smaller illustrations on a single page and double page spreads, complimenting the text.  The details found in each visual extend the story as well as offering foreshadowing; the artwork on the walls, the program on the television screen, the toys and items on the girl's bedroom shelves.  You have to laugh at the little extras; the expressions on the characters' faces, the playful wag of the puppy's tail even when hiding under the sofa, or the fish's new handy home.

One of my favorite pictures is when Kitten and the puppy blast out the bedroom window.  The pup's ears are straight back due to the force.  Kitten has nabbed the girl's homemade helmet.  Even the inanimate toys in the room have looks of bug-eyed wonder on their faces.

I am confident No, No, Kitten! written by Shelley Moore Thomas with illustrations by Lori Nichols will find an audience in any reader who has heard those familiar words directed at them.  It's a way to learn boundaries and can lead to new discoveries.  I'll bet readers and listeners will be chiming in on the repetitive phrases as soon as they can.  This is sure to be a storytime favorite.

To discover more about Shelley Moore Thomas and Lori Nichols please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.

UPDATE:  Be sure to head over to Watch. Connect. Read.blog of teacher librarian extraordinaire, John Schumacher, to read what Lori Nichols has to say about this title and to see the book trailer premiere.  

This title has been endorsed by none other than Lou Grant, famous cat companion of John Schumacher.


  1. Thanks for the great review of our imaginative kitten!

    1. You are welcome, Kerry! We should all take to heart what kitten shows us about life. ☺