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Cat on the Hill - Michael Foreman

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Michael Foreman / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / Reading Level: Ages 4-8 / 32 Pages / Book is published 2005-10-06 by Andersen Press Ltd

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    4 Reviews
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      20.07.2013 21:31
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      3 stars

      My eldest daughter was given this book by her Great Grandmother as a present when she came back from her holidays, it states on the back that it is published by Hinkler Books in Australia but she bought it in France.

      The front cover of the book shows a lovely little Cat the same colours as the Felix cat and it is looking out over a coastline covered in snow, the cover isn't all that appealing in my opinion and Sophie didn't really seem that interested in it either more so the top and the chocolates she had also been bought.

      The story is about the Cat that lives on the hill as the title would suggest, it covers life from the Cats perspective through the different months of the year so isn't exactly a story as such which seemed a little strange to me.

      Summer - the Cat likes summer as there are plenty of people to climb the hill and some of them share their picnics and ice creams with her which she loves. She tells you that she was once a ships cat but her skipper grew too old so now she lives on the hill watching the harbour. There is a yappy Dog that also comes up the hill who she calls barking mad as he runs up the hill barking and then simply runs back down again.

      Autumn - The days get shorter and the Cat has less visitors and not many of them bring the ice cream that she likes, she goes down to the harbour on an evening to look for food but is often chased away by mean cats. The yapping Dog still runs up and down the hill and she can see a Horse and Donkey playing together in a field.

      Winter - The days of course are no cold, the poor cat finds it hard to keep dry and warm, the poor cat is chased a lot by the other cats and she survives on soggy chips. The cat tries to get food from the butchers but is again chased this time by the yapping dog, the Cat returns up the hill. A while later the dog follows and the cat hides as he has backup, turns out that it's the fisher boy and they have with them the horse and donkey along with fish and sausages. They all sit together and finish their meal the cat getting a fuss and them all looking out over the moonlit harbour.

      Sophie wasn't really that fussed by this book, it is very slow to begin with really and doesn't really seem to have a point to the story until you reach winter half way through the book, my youngest daughter just wanders off as this book is unable to hold her attention. The book would maybe be more appreciated by an older child but my 2 and 6 years old don't ever ask to read it.

      I think the book is quite hard to read, it has a soft spine but hard front and back cover making it hard to keep the book open at times. The pictures are pretty decent and the animals are realistic, there is a lot of text to the story and it's far too long for young children. The story has a lovely ending in my opinion but the children don't seem to see it even when I said to Sophie that was a nice thing to do she just shrugged. I would give this book 3 stars I think it was a nice book but there are lots better than it and as we own ones that are much better this one never gets read.

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        28.02.2012 08:19
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        A good read!

        There's a lone cat who lives at the top of a hill near a seaside town in Michael Foreman's 'Cat on the Hill'. This cat is a survivor which is not too difficult in the summer months when there are many visitors around to feed him scraps. However, in the winter it is a different matter when offerings are sparse and he has to contend with all the rough, tough neighbourhood cats. How will he survive?

        In 'Cat on the Hill', the story is told through the eyes of the nameless cat. The story starts in Summer when he tells how he loves living at the top of the hill with its tremendous views of the sea and the constant visitors who are only too happy to share their sandwiches and the drips from their ice creams. Life is good even with horrible squawky gulls trying to steal his food. He explains how he used to be a ship's cat until both the skipper and the ship became too old to sail the seas.

        The story moves on to Autumn and, although it is getting colder and there are fewer visitors, the cat still gets by through visiting the town at night and finding scraps from outside the bakery or from dropped takeaways. However, when the story moves on to Winter, life is hard and the poor cat feels starving. Chased away by the aggressive town cats, he finds nothing to eat. It's even worse when snow starts falling. Luckily, there is at least one kind soul about who comes and saves the day.

        This is a sweet simple story that illustrates how fortunes can change through the passing of the seasons. My daughter loved the fact that the story is told by the cat himself which seemed to really help her to empathise with the way that he was feeling. We felt that this was far more effective than if the story had been written in the third person. For a picture book, there is quite a lot of text, but none of it is too difficult making this an ideal read for a newly confident reader as well as for sharing together at bedtime.

        There are lovely throughout the story and it is fascinating to note the subtle change in colours with the different seasons. There is also a subtle shift in the atmosphere created and some of the images of the mean town cats are really quite menacing.

        One slight concern that I had when I was reading the book with my daughter was that the cat keeps referring to a 'damned dog'. This is not an expression that I would use and certainly not one that I would wish my daughter to pick up on and start using because she had read it in a book. The expression seems quite out of place and unnecessary in a book that is aimed at young children. This is such a shame because the rest of the book and the sentiments conveyed are really rather lovely.

        So overall this is an enjoyable book but just a shame about a couple of ill chosen words.

        This review has already appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk

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          13.08.2008 20:26
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          A nice story for adult and child to share together.

          (A review I wrote for a university assignment)

          This book has a rather melancholic feel to the story. I found that particularly when I read it aloud, it has quite a poetic tone, which is similar to other books I have read by this author. The author makes use of some lovely imagery, such as "see the fishing boats... come back in the gold of evening in a cloud of seagulls." Which creates imagery that even young children could have a go at describing or just thinking about how it makes them feel.
          The narrative is simple and easy to follow. A very simple story about the life of a stray cat through the seasons succeeds in drawing the reader in, to a point in which they care about this cat and where his next meal will come from. I think this book would be suitable for a Year 2 independent reader, but might be a little too overwhelming for a younger or less able reader. Personally I think it lends itself better to whole class reading in which the teacher can make comment on some of the more complex language and the illustrations.
          The illustrations play a very important role in this book, taking up whole pages. In places the text seems almost secondary to the illustrations, which could almost tell the story on their own. Perhaps an interesting lesson for a slightly older (Key Stage 2?) class could involve them constructing the story themselves, using just the illustrations? There are also role-play possibilities, enacting the parts of the cat and the other animals.
          In the story itself, the cat is often chased away from areas rich in food by other, more forceful, animals. I think there is a metaphor for the Christmas story here as the teacher could relate Mary and Joseph's hunt for shelter with the cat's hunt for food. The cat's situation gets more and more desperate as the story progresses, leaving the reader feeling rather downhearted. However, it ends on a high when the animals he has met during the story come to visit the cat at Christmas, bringing with them a feast and shelter. This can easily lead into discussions on helping those in need and looking after those around us. A perfect theme for the Christmas season, regardless of individual religions.

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            18.12.2005 11:52
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            A lovely and beautifully illustrated story for Chrsitmas.

            "Bells ding-dong across the bay, and the sea turns silver in the moonlight. My friends and I sit warm on our hill between all the stars of Heaven and Earth."


            In the second of my reviews of Michael Foreman’s Christmas books I had to re-read a wonderful book called Cat on the Hill. Like Cat in the Manger the main character is a cat, but this time the setting is present day St. Ives, as opposed to Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus.

            ~~~THE PLOT.

            Cat on the Hill is a picture book about a stray cat living in a seaside town. The story begins in the summer ~ life is good for the cat, who lives on scraps from the tourists and is well fed and happy (he especially likes ice cream!). He watches the fishing boats (he used to be a ship’s cat), gets irritated with a barking dog and dodges the seagulls to get fish from a fisher boy.

            The book follows his life as summer turns to autumn and the tourists begin to leave. As winter approaches the cat, who lives in an old building on a hill, becomes more desperate for food. He can smell food from the town below but, when he creeps down, he is scared and chased away by the horrible town cats.

            Scared, hungry and alone, the cat creeps back up onto the hill where he hears noises. Will the cat survive the cold spell and who is coming up the hill on a donkey through the snow?

            ~~~WHAT DID I THINK?

            Like Cat in the Manger this is another beautifully illustrated tale from Michael Foreman. The blue tinged water colour pictures are excellent and really add atmosphere to the book as a whole. The blue increases a slight sadness that creeps in and also helps to reinforce the sea as a backdrop for the story. The pictures get a little darker as the seasons pass ~ the light blues of the summer sky are replaced by darker tones, representing dark winter nights.

            Although not exclusively a Christmas story I would say this book would be most appealing during the festive season. The ending of the book almost takes on a Nativity theme and even Santa makes a brief cameo appearance ~ see if you and your children can spot him first time round! There’s so much going on throughout and the book is full of exciting pictures of the sights and sounds of a seaside town.

            It is very easy to feel sympathy for the cat and I’m sure most readers will worry about whether he will be alright. The ending is happy, but there are problems on the way and the story does have a few darker moments ~ the wild town cats are little bit fierce when they chase our cat away. Foreman has an ability to write about an animal in a believable way. He doesn’t try to make the animal human and he doesn’t make them too cute or sweet. The cat is quite cranky (like the cat in Cat in the Manger) and irritable ~ this makes him likable and easier to identify with.

            The story also teaches children about friendship and its importance. The cat, although happy during the tourist season, is still envious because he sees other animals playing together while he is all alone. He gets irritated with the barking of the Fisher boy’s dog and with the chasing about of the donkey and horse who are firm friends. When he is truly alone and weak from hunger, however, it is these animals who come up the hill (with the Fisher boy) and bring him food and company.

            Cat on the Hill is really well written and is a good story to read aloud with a child or group of children. The pictures are great to point at and to spot all the different things going on in St. Ives. There are lovely pictures of the town decorated for Christmas ~ the snow glistens, the lights glow and there are shadows cast by the moon between the Fisherman’s cottages. This glowing festive scene contrasts with the snowy, cold hill that the cat must return to, and also to the sunny brightness that we saw in the summer months!

            The words compliment the pictures well too ~ when Foreman describes the ice cream in summer and the fish and chips I could almost smell them! The text is also quite easy to understand; the words are simple and will cause no problems for slightly older children who want to read it for themselves. The only minor quibble is that the cat uses the word “damned” to describe the barking dog. It isn’t swearing as such, but do you really want your child thinking this is a great word to use and keep repeating it? The age group the book is intended for is four to six year olds ~ this is about right, but I think it can still appeal to older children too because the illustrations are beautifully and absorbing.

            I would still recommend Cat on the Hill as a great bedtime story for Christmas time and also for other times of the year (holiday season would particularly appropriate). The pictures are lovely and really add depth and strength of feeling to a bitter sweet story. I actually found it quite a moving story that teaches children about the changing seasons and the beauty of friendship! It makes you think, makes you smile and also makes you a little sad too. There is enough to keep your interest from start to finish too.

            Cat on the Hill is a very atmospheric book with a really feel good ending! Greatly recommended!

            ~~~PROUCT DETAILS.

            • Hardcover 28 pages (July 24, 2003)
            • Publisher: Andersen Press
            • ISBN: 1842702823
            Price is £10.99 and can currently be bought on Amazon for £7.69.

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            Summer in St. Ives is a good time for the stray cat. Visitors give him titbits to eat, and it is warm on his hill. Then, in autumn the tourists start to leave, and food is more difficult to come by. But, winter is worse: it is a cold, lonely time - full of danger and constant hunger. Appetizing smells from the village drift up the hill, enticing him to risk the notice of the fierce village cats. And comes Christmas, who will remember the cat on the hill? It is sure to be a family favourite throughout the year - and especially, perhaps, at Christmas.