About the Holiday
Today’s holiday was established to encourage people to have courage and do that thing inside them that might be a little different or way out there, but actually defines them. Without people who have explored those other possibilities, the world would be missing out on some amazing art, inventions, innovations, music, and, of course, books! To celebrate, unleash your inner you or go a little wild. Who knows? It might become a regular thing that makes you happy!
The Catawampus Cat
Written by Jason Carter Eaton | Illustrated by Gus Gordon
On a regular Tuesday morning, the catawampus cat came into town “slightly askew.” Everyone was busy, so no one saw him until Mr. Grouse, the grocer, noticed his unusual walk and “tried to straighten him out.” His wife Lydia, who for twenty years had been chilly to her husband, asked what was wrong with the cat, and they both tilted their heads to study him. There, under the vegetable stand, they saw Lydia’s wedding ring lost twenty years before, and suddenly Mr. Grouse noticed that Lydia looked just as she did when they first met. “They kissed and on walked the catawampus cat, still askew…”
The bored barber, “Bob Long, who was giving a woman a long bob,” saw the catawampus cat from his window and was so startled he snipped, and clipped the woman’s bangs at an angle. She loved it, and the catawampus cat continued on. He passed Tom who was painting the Mayor’s house in the usual way until he tilted his head to get a better look and scribbled a diagonal stripe down the front of the house. “‘Brilliant!’ Exclaimed Mayor Meyer. ‘A work of art!’”
The town daredevil made a world record after spotting the cat. The town librarian had a life-changing revelation after seeing the cat. And little Bushy Brows Billiam, suddenly understood his lesson better by looking at things a bit differently.
All through town, people began tilting their head and even walking at a slant. Architects began building homes, apartments, and stores that leaned, and car makers designed “off-kilter” vehicles. The effect on the town and the people was amazing. They found favorite possessions they thought lost forever, “and rediscovered old friends they thought they’d never know again.” The first Tuesday of the year was designated “Catawampus Cat Day.” Confetti was flung at an angle, a band played off-key, and the crowd was entirely catawampus.
“‘Well? What do you think of it?’” Mayer Meyer excitedly asked the catawampus cat. “‘We’re all different now, just like you.’” The catawampus cat gazed at him thoughtfully, then stretched, “straightened himself out…and walked out of town, once again uniquely catawampus.”
In his delightfully inventive story, Jason Carter Eaton rejoices in all those people (and cats) who walk their own way through life. He encourages young readers to embrace their uniqueness, telling them it’s a good thing to view the world with a different perspective. Even as the catawampus cat inspires the townspeople, Eaton strikes a humorous cautionary note about the nature of fads. He also happily reminds readers that the truly innovative will always find a way to be different.
Gus Gordon’s adorably confident cat sets off his chain reaction of “uniqueness” in detailed mixed-media illustrations that provide lots of opportunities for kids to discover new (and old—sometimes even antique) perspectives as they watch the catawampus cat walk through this diverse town in his own particular way. Surprising and funny details drawn in along the way will also have readers lingering and giggling over each page. Cat lovers will recognize some endearing cat-titudes in the catawampus cat that make feline friends so loveable. The endpapers provide a map of the catawampus cat’s route through this very lucky town.
Smile- and laugh-inducing from cover to cover, The Catawampus Cat would be a favorite and often-asked-for choice for home and classroom libraries.
Ages 4 – 8
Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0553509717
To learn more about Gus Gordon, his books, and his art, visit his website.
Walk on Your Wild Side Day Activity
A Little Ball of Kitten Love
This sweet little kitten is easy to make and can keep you company on your desk or shelf! Since every kitten is different, you can make yours to look just the way you want. Here’s how I made mine:
- Wooden ball with a flat bottom, available in craft stores and in different sizes
- Craft paint in any color kitten you’d like (I used red and yellow and mixed it to make a mottled orange)
- Craft paint in pink or white for the inner ear
- Scrap of fleece for the ears. Fleece is easily shaped to the rounded ball and when painted is stiff enough to stand up on its own.
- Thin, colored wire in several colors for the tail (string or twine, wrapped wire, fleece, stiff paper, and other materials could also be used)
- Paint brush
- Permanent marker for making the face
- Hot glue gun or strong glue
- Paint the wooden ball and let dry
- Paint the scrap of fleece to match the wooden ball, let dry
- Cut out small triangular shapes for the ears. Round the bottom of the ears slightly so they fit the shape of the ball
- If making a tail from several colors of thin wire, twist them together, leaving one end untwisted
- With the glue gun or strong glue attach the ears to the top of the head
- With the glue gun attach the tail to the back of the wooden ball in the center near the base
- With the marker, draw eyes, nose, and mouth for the face and semicircles near the bottom for the paws