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'Pumpkin Cat'     Send a link to a friend

[OCT. 20, 2004]  "Pumpkin Cat," by Ann Turner, illustrated by Amy June Bates, Hyperion Books for Children, 30 pages, ages 3-7

Review by
Marlene Perry

Children and pets just seem to be attracted to each other. Even for those children who find dogs too loud and rambunctious, a cat will most certainly attract every child. Natural feelings of nurturing and protection will surely be awakened upon hearing about the orange cat that begins this story caught up in a storm of rain and thunder.

As she drags her wet, furry self out of a ditch, she stumbles upon a small brick building. The cat senses this means there will be people and food and warmth. But finding no sign of humans, she pushes herself through a slot in a wooden box on the porch, and falls asleep. The next morning kind voices and gentle hands lift the cat out of the wooden box, and we see that she has been sleeping among returned books in the drop box of a library.

The exhausted cat is given a basket, lined with a soft sweater, and a small dish of tuna. "Come on, library cat, please eat!" says the librarian. The cat begins to purr and rub against their legs.

Rochelle and Lisa, the librarians, search for a suitable name for their newfound friend. Since it is only a few days until Halloween, they decide to give this orange-colored cat the appropriate name of Pumpkin Cat.

So Pumpkin Cat paws through some books and explores the echoing rooms. This certainly is a warm, safe place to be. But she knows that homes are "more than walls and a roof to keep out the rain." As Pumpkin Cat gazes out the window, she isn't quite sure what is missing.

The next morning the front door of the library opens and a second-grade class pours noisily into the room. When Rochelle, the librarian, settles the children on the floor, a little girl with braids calls the cat to her. As Pumpkin Cat curls up on the girl's lap, she remembers that this was "part of having a home -- a warm lap and someone to pet her."

But when night falls and the library is empty again, Pumpkin Cat walks around the building, looking for a friend. Neither the stuffed sock monkey nor the noisy mice in the cellar will play with her, so she sleeps.

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The next day lots of children return to the library yard, but everyone looks strange and different. They are wearing hats and wigs and frightening masks. They laugh and chase each other and bob for apples. All this childish behavior frightens Pumpkin Cat and she hides in the bushes until the librarians call her into the building for the night. Pumpkin Cat hesitates on the porch as she faces another long night with no children or kind librarians to keep her company.

"What's this, Rochelle?" says Lisa, looking at the basket on the top step. She pulls off the blanket to reveal a tiny black sleeping kitten with a note that reads: "My name is Halloween Cat. I hear this library likes cats."

And this is how Pumpkin Cat's library becomes a true home to her. What follows is the sweet ending of the story, showing the interaction of cat and kitten as they settle in to become fast friends.

Amy June Bates' watercolor illustrations are simple and soft, with great use of orange, yellow, green and brown. The artwork saturates this story with warm autumn and holiday feelings that I welcome at this time of year.

I also enjoyed this book because, working in a library myself, I would love to have a feline friend to share my day with.

Whether you and your child like cats, frequent the library, enjoy stories with a Halloween setting, or all of these strike your fancy, I'm sure you will like sharing "Pumpkin Cat."

To enjoy this and other books, visit the Lincoln Public Library at 725 Pekin St., or call the Youth Services Department at 732-5732.

[Marlene Perry, Youth Services Department,
Lincoln Public Library District

 

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