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My son was around two years old, maybe a little younger, when his grandparents bought him the book My Cat Just Sleeps by Joanna Partis. At the time it was a big hit with him, a book that he enjoyed reading with us over and over again. As he grew a little older it was eventually put away in one of his toy boxes. Recently it has resurfaced and is usually found in the hands of our 17 month old cat enthusiast daughter.
My Cat Just Sleeps is a relatively small board book. To be exact, it measures 18.2 x 18 x 1.8cm. In my opinion this is just the right size for an older baby or young toddler to explore, not too big and not too small. The pages are made from thick cardboard and it is a very sturdy book.
This book is available from Amazon through a number of various sellers, however their prices leave little to be believed at £10.50 and even £15.19! The recommended retail price for this book is just £4.99. Amazon do however have this book on sale direct from themselves which appears to be the very same book with an updated cover. This one is priced at £4.13. I presume therefore that this book has been somewhat updated since it was purchased for my son just over a year or so ago.
My Cat Just Sleeps follows the woes of a little girl and her cat. Her friend's cats all seem rather interesting and fun, whereas her cat just sleeps. One by one we are introduced to her friend's cats and told about their interests and what makes them fun. For instance George's cat climbs trees, Harry's cat digs up worms in the garden and Molly's cat plays with the fish in her pond. But this little girl's cat does none of those things, he just sleeps. We are shown illustrations of her friend's cats carrying out these activities and on the following page, the main character encouraging her cat to do the same while her cat blissfully sleeps.
"My cat just sleeps" is used repetitively throughout the book, a technique which is used in many books to enable the young reader to join in and engaging them further in the story.
As the story resolves, the little girl thinks of all of the things that her cat actually does. She realises that actually her cat does lots of things, he is just a little different to her friends' cats. She ponders however over why her cat is always so sleepy. We are then shown in illustrations only with no text just why her cat is so sleepy during the day. As night falls, he climbs off her bed, leaves the house via the cat flap and has a big gathering with all of the neighbourhood cats. The last illustration is spread over two pages and depicts the cat dancing on a wall while lots of other cats look on. I particularly like this illustration because, as a family who have cats, it is easy to pick out cats similar to ours in the picture and to point them out to our children as though our cats are in the book.
There is no mention on this book as to who the illustrator is. Maybe it is Joanna Partis herself. Nonetheless the illustrations throughout are simply fabulous. Each page is filled entirely by the picture, there are no blank spaces left around the edge. This encourages us to explore the illustration in more detail. The bold and bright use of colours makes the illustrations all the more appealing. Each cat is rather childlike and very cute indeed. Each is a different breed or colour, with an endearing expression on their faces and teddy bear-like paws which flail out as they run, jump and play.
As aforementioned my son adored this book for quite a while. He is now three years old and has moved on to the world of fire engines, construction vehicles and factual books about animals and the environment. My daughter is now the main holder of this book. I have mentioned in previous reviews that she is simply cat mad and as she has grown she has become a shadow to our pair of Siamese, letting out an excited squeal and an "Awwww!" whenever one crosses her path. This book engages her interest in all things cat and she will very often pick it up and bring it to myself or her father to read, plonking herself on our laps in readiness.
This book has been very much loved in our household. It has now withstood a small amount of damage, a crease to the front page where it opens and a scuffed spine. This is minimal in comparison to some others however and considering the amount of use it has had over a long period of time, it has in fact fared quite well indeed.
My Cat Just Sleeps is an integral part of my children's vast book collection. It is certainly in the leaders list, along with just a few others in terms of a favourite. I would very much recommend this book for an older baby or younger toddler, a boy or a girl. Both of my children have certainly given it their approval.
'My Cat Just Sleeps' is a small board book aimed at pre-schoolers. It's by the British author Joanne Partis, who has written and illustrated several books for young children. For a while this one was given out by health visitors in the UK as part of child development visits. My daughter must have owned this for coming up to two years and it's escaped lightly; it's a bit scuffed and creased and has an unidentifiable stain on the cover, but it's obviously quite tough.
The front cover on our copy shows a picture of a little girl hugging her cat, but there is a new paperback version due out in January 2011 with a different cover.
Inside, the little girl talks about other cats she knows and how they all do interesting things like; "jump, and chase, and play, and hunt", each of these being illustrated by cute pictures. She goes into more detail about the activities her friends cats get up to and each time this is followed by the fact that her cat isn't interested in this or that activity because, "my cat just sleeps". The text has a nice rhythm and repetitiveness to it which is good for helping very young ones with language skills.
It's quite amusing. For example, after we are shown how Harry's cat digs up worms in the garden and likes carrying them around in her mouth, the next page shows the little girl trying to get the cat of the title interested. She does this by pinning up pictures of a trowel, a pot and a worm to the fence and holding out a wriggly worm to her snoozing cat, who falls asleep in all sorts of unusual places throughout the book.
Although the little girl is obviously a bit frustrated with her cat, she goes on to demonstrate the reasons she loves him. I think the message here might be that whatever our shortcomings we are all lovable in our own way? Eventually the pair go to bed, the cat is curled up on the cover and the text ends with the words, "But I wish I knew why he is always so sleepy." But we know don't we? Well, we do if we look at the last couple of pages, which are pictures only, and show the little divil sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night. Out of the cat-flap he goes and in a comic denouement he sings and dances on the dustbin lids under the spotlight of a streetlight, while neighborhood cats gather round to watch from the rooftops. The end section could be said to encourage children to use their own words and tell a bit of the story for themselves, I've never actually just read this bit 'to' my little one, but rather 'with' her, in fact she usually ends up telling it to me.
The illustrations are big and bold, simple and colourful with a good sense of humour and cheer about them. It's a nice book for young children and will no doubt be especially appealing to little girls who love cats. My daughter's had a lot of fun with this book, she pretty much knows all the words by heart and particularly likes to tell the end of the story.
'My Cat Just Sleeps' can be bought new for £1.20 on Amazon.co.uk at the time of writing, although prices seem quite variable on this one and on different versions.
Further details, (from Amazon): Hardcover: 24 pages, Publisher: OUP Oxford; New edition edition (1 April 2004), Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 18 x 1.8 cm
My three year old received 'My Cat Just Sleeps' by Joanne Partis as part of his Book-Start pack just over a year ago. For anyone that doesn't know, Book-Start is a charity that provides books for young children. The packs are available from Health Visitors and also from Libraries. They give out two packs, one around the child's first birthday and then again around their second. The packs are standard so a lot of children probably received the same book.
For a long time we have been stuck in a rut reading wise, my son liked picture books and I wanted to move him on to something with a story, so we gave this a go.
The book follows a little girl who has a cat, so do lots of her friends, but while their cats all do exciting things, her cat is very sleepy. She feels sad that her cat doesn't all of the fun things that her friends cats do, like George's cat who likes climbing trees, or Harry's cat who likes to play with worms, or Molly's cat who enjoys playing with the fish in her pond. The little girl's (we don't get told her name) cat doesn't enjoy any of these activities because all the cat does is sleep. The book shows her trying to get her cat to do those things, without success. However when she things about all the thing that her cat does, like cuddling up on her lap and keeping her warm at night, she realises she he does lots of things that she likes. I suppose the moral of the story is supposed to be that it doesn't matter if you are not like everybody else, you are still lovable (the girl realises that she really loves her cat) but without being done in a really obvious way - two year olds don't really understand hidden morals and meaning, but it will be a great starting point for a chat about how everyone is special in their own way.
The book only has 24 pages, but each page has lovely illustrations on it. It has bold colours and cute pictures without being too cute, but the colours are eye catching. The pictures also tells the child things that the story doesn't, such as showing what the other cats like doing, and showing what the little girl's cat does when she tries to get her to do those same things - snoozing on the job! It also eludes at the end of the book why the cat is so sleepy, without actually telling you why, so it can open a bit of discussion with your child about why the cat is so sleepy. (I wont spoil it by giving the ending away!) The inside covers have lovely pictures of cats snoozing in lots of different, funny places, such as in salad bowls or sinks. Its quite a big book, and although the pages are paper they are durable so easy or little fingers to turn.
The book has very few words, one sentence per page, which appealed to my son as he really doesn't have the attention span to listen to pages of story. He likes the fact that the books starts with repetition so that he can repeat the line 'My Cat Just Sleeps' whenever its his turn, which encourages turn taking and conversation skills. He is now able to recite the whole story to himself by recognising the pictures, so it has really helped him progress from the picture books he was reading.
I really like this book, and have since bought some other Joanne Partis books because we liked this one so much. As I said at the start we got this one free, but it can be purchased from Amazon for about £2.00 (second hand, its ridiculously expensive for a new one on thier though!). The book is published by Oxford University Press.
I would recommend this for children aged 1-3, my daughter enjoys listening to the story at 18 months and although she doesn't really understand it she likes looking at the pictures and hearing the story.