CM March 15, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 23

image Fred's Dream Cat.

Marie-danielle Croteau. Illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin.
Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax: Formac Publishing Limited, 1995. 61pp, paper, $5.95.
ISBN: 0-88780-304-0.

Grades 3 - 4 / Ages 8 - 9.
Review by Leslie Millar.



I myself don't care for hockey. And my parents don't like to go out. When the weekend comes, they only want to do one thing; rest. Read and listen to music. Watch their kids grow.
Great. Every Sunday, I sat there and I grew, just to please my parents. While I grew, my wish for a cat grew and grew.
Soon I wouldn't be wishing for a kitten anymore. I'd be wanting a lion.

image Marie-danielle Croteau works in the communications field. She wrote two novels for adults before turning her hand to children's books. Fred's Dream Cat is her third book for children. In it, she tells the story of Fred, an irrepressible optimist who longs for a pet cat.

Fred is always convinced that his parents are about to give him a cat when obstacles suddenly arise. For example, a cat could endanger the health standards required for the family fish shop, which is attached to the house. Or Fred's mother is expecting a baby, and it's not a good idea to have a cat around an infant.


Fred goes to great lengths to persuade his parents that a cat is reasonable and feasible. He finally hits upon the ultimate plan; infest the fish shop with mice to force his parents to realize they need a cat. This plan, like the previous ones, is unsuccessful, and Fred is near to giving up hope when his parents come through and . . . guess what?

Fred's Dream Cat has large print and short chanters. It is suitable for both independent reading and class read-alouds. Vocabulary like rummage, nervous, and studious may prove difficult for some readers. And some expressions such as in the bag, all fired up, and I clued in may need explaining. The black-and-white illustrations by Brunt St-Aubin are very funny.

This short novel is a highly enjoyable read. Told from the point of view of an articulate eight-year-old, it is rife with humour. Fred is an engaging and likeable child who will be sure to make you smile. Fred 's Dream Cat is a light tale of a boy whose dreams come true, but there are also undertones of misfortune. Fred's parents worry visibly about accidents that might befall their children. His friend William's mother and brother died in a train accident. These details do not overshadow, but balance the comic tone of the story, giving more texture and depth.

Highly recommended.

Leslie Millar is a substitute teacher and volunteer in Winnipeg schools.

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ISSN 1201-9364