Friday, May 22, 2015

Cat Up a Tree: A Book for Poetry Teatime

I was reading poems from Cat Up a Tree for the zillionth time yesterday at teatime, and I realized I have never shared this favourite with you. I picked it up on a whim at a local used bookstore about two years ago. Since then, we have pulled it out regularly (at least once a week!). The boys all have their favourite poems that they choose every time. And I have not gotten tired of this book at all even though we have read it so often, which in my opinion is one sign of a good children's book.

Cat Up a Tree tells a story in poems. It's a simple story, really. A cat climbs a tree in chase of a robin. A little girl sees and is concerned for the cat. A number of people get involved in trying to get the cat down from the tree. In the end the cat comes down by himself.

That's all there is to the story, but that's not all there is to the book. Anne Isaacs' poems tell the story from the perspective of the cat, the people involved, the tree, and passersby, among others. A number of different styles of poetry are used, providing variety and interest. Best of all, the poetry and vocabulary are not dumbed down because they are for children. For example, in "Night Rising," the cat speaks to the moon from the branches of the tree:
Ancient alchemist, wake! Arise:
Flood each echoing well with beams;
Scatter coins across the sky;
Pour down your cold, transmuting fire.
I know my children don't understand everything about the poems, but they love them just the same. They know when they're not being talked down to.

JJ(4)'s favourite poem is "Box-Car Racer," a fun poem full of sound effects:
At the top of High
I buckle my helmet, spit out my gum
Check the brakesropesteeringwheelaxletires
with one foot holding the box-
   over the

SA(6) loves "Out on a Limb," a poem full of drama as five people climb the tree after the cat. His favourite part is the ending:
While they debated the matter,
The cat crept, unseen and alone,
Then lightly descended the branches
To follow a path of his own.

Stephen Mackey's illustrations add to the humour of this poem, and work well together with the poetry throughout the book.

We love Cat Up a Tree. Try checking it out of your library. I'd love to hear how your children like it.

PS. I am not an Amazon affiliate, and just included the link for your information. If you're buying from Amazon, I'd encourage you to support your favourite blogger who is an affiliate (Why not?).