________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 1. . . .September 2, 2011


Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?

Dan Bar-el. Illustrated by Rae Maté.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-897476-46-8.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

**** /4



Readers familiar with the original classic Mother Goose rhyme are in for a real treat with a wonderful revamping. In fact, it is a complete redesign of the old treasured refrain, "Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?" This adaptation is in the clever and creative hands of an award-winning children's author, storyteller and educator, Dan Bar-el. The results are charming, whimsical rhyming couplets that explore the continuing adventures of this sassy cat, which, in its original form, were written as:

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? I've been to London to visit the Queen. Pussycat, Puss cat what did you there ? I frightened a little Mouse under the chair. Meoww

internal art     On Nursery Rhymes -- Lyrics, Origins and History (www.rhymes.org.uk), we find that this simple refrain dates back to the 16th century in Tudor England where a cat which belonged to one of Queen Elizabeth's ladies in waiting, roamed freely about Windsor Castle. The story goes that one day the cat brushed against the Queen's foot as it ran beneath the throne, frightening her. She then decreed that the "cat could wander about the throne room, on condition it kept it free of mice."

     Enter Dan Bar-el, and off we go to explore with Pussycat, as he sails down the Seine. Along the way, he experiences laughter, a stage show, strange animals, street performers, a visit to the North Pole, and a pod grey whales. These are just a few of the encounters of this stylish cat as we delve deeper into his feelings and discover his fears. sorrows, and joys. The additions of the many rhyming couplets to the old refrain are indeed welcomed and absolutely exude charm.

Pussycat, Pussycat,
What touched your heart?
A train whistle moaning
Its way through the dark

Pussycat, Pussycat,
What stopped your sorrow?
I sang to the stars
As I rode to tomorrow.

     This delightful tale of adventure, travel, and friendship is vividly brought to life by Rae Maté, with amazing, colourful and imaginative illustrations rendered in acrylic paint. There is so much for little ones to see and for parents to point out. The sometimes challenging text is well served by these splendid images and make for a potent and unforgettable combination. This edition proves once again that Nursery rhymes are a fun way to teach children of all ages about language, music and the fun of rhymes.

Highly Recommended

Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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