________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 10 . . . . January 15, 1999

cover Catalogue.

Sheila Dalton. Illustrated by Kim LaFave.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 1998.
32 pp, hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 1-385-25701-3.

Subject Heading:
Cats-Juvenile poetry.

Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4

image According to Webster, "catalogue" is derived from the Greek verb "to list," and, with this title pun to set the tone, Dalton proceeds to list, in rollicking rhyme, the many idiosyncrasies of cats. Teamed up again with illustrator Kim LaFave, Dalton follows-up her successful picture poem book, Doggerel, which celebrated the characteristic of canines.

      Using imaginative and often demanding vocabulary set in a simple rhyme scheme, Dalton presents the essence of cats. She asserts that they can be kissy or hissy, haughty or naughty, and can deflate or berate well-meaning owners. She stretches the boundaries of her young audience's language by including in context words such as uncouth, ornate, malice, staid, snide and many other terms that help to define a cat's nature. At first reading, it is unlikely that child or reader would want to interrupt the flow of the fast-paced rhyme, but future readings, and these are guaranteed, will undoubtedly result in extended discussion of the meanings of many of these words. The energetic illustrations also help to explain unfamiliar words. For example, the vain cat admires itself in a mirror, the tramp cat dresses as a hobo, and the avant-garde cat sports sunglasses and a beanie.

      There are references to cats encountered elsewhere, such as "grinning cats that scared little Alice" accompanied by a Cheshire grimacing, and "brash succotash cats that love to chase Tweeties." There is even a fez-wearing cat who is reading the Rubicat illustrating "cats from Siam and cats that read poems by Omar Khayyam." And, on the last page, "millions, gadzillions of cats," is reminiscent of Wanda Gag's classic tale.

      Dalton and LaFave joyfully affirm the essential uniqueness of cats for feline aficionados and the uninitiated both. In Catalogue, a girl and her kitten [like the little boy and his puppy in Doggerel] begin and end the poem and provide a focus for the children listening. In both books, the final page proclaims that, despite the variety of cats or dogs available, the most important one is their own special pet.

Highly recommended.

Alison Mews is the Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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ISSN 1201-9364