About the Holiday
Even though September is winding down, it’s never too late to make sure that your cat is happy. After all, a cat should be happy all the time, right? While this month offers opportunities to make sure that your cat is getting everything they need to be healthy, it’s also a good time to consider your cat’s social interactions. Do they have a stimulating environment to keep their minds sharp? Do they get to spend quality time with you? Do they have high perches and places to hide? Do they get enough exercise? All of these things engage the social needs of cats, who like to play and with and have the attention of their owners. To celebrate this month, think about your cat’s life from their perspective to ensure your cat is a happy cat.
Kitten and the Night Watchman
Written by John Sullivan | Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
On his way out the door, the night watchman “hugs his wife and children…and drives to work” as the sun is setting. As the sky darkens, he patrols the construction site once an hour. There’s a lot to do. He makes sure every door is locked, that the workshop is clear, and that no one is disturbing the vehicles or equipment.
He rests for a moment with a hot cup of coffee under the twinkling stars and “thinks of his boy and girl, safe and asleep at home.” But the night watchman is not alone. A little gray kitten peeks out from behind a truck’s tire. The kitten approaches the night watchman and follows him as he continues his rounds through the yard, where “an excavator bows like a strange giraffe.”
The kitten knows the night watchman will share his dinner before they are off on their rounds again. They see insects hovering in the light of the lamppost and hear birds call to each other. But when the night watchman goes back to his office and waits for the kitten to follow him through the door, “the kitten isn’t there. She is nowhere to be seen.” The night watchman hears a dog bark, cars roar, and the rattle of the train passing and worries.
A moth flits around the desk lamp, and the night watchman gently carries it outside. When he opens the door, the little kitten is waiting for him. He picks her up and gives her a cuddle. Then it’s time again for their rounds. While the sun breaks on the horizon, the night watchman packs up his things to go home. As he drives through the wakening city, “this time he is not alone.” He talks to the kitten and tells her, “‘I know a boy and girl who will want to give you a name.’”
Through his beautiful and emotionally resonant story, debut author John Sullivan lets kids follow along as a night watchman quietly makes his rounds during those midnight hours that are so mysterious and intriguing to young children. Sullivan’s lyrical phrasing, attention to nighttime creatures, and whimsical transformations of trucks, cranes, and backhoes create poetry and art from the concrete world of a construction site. The endearing relationship between the night watchman and the kitten makes the moment of suspense a tug at the heart, and its quick and loving resolution will charm young readers.
Taeeun Yoo’s soft, textured illustrations envelop readers in fiery sunrises and sunsets, the lovely purple’s and blues of early evening, and the shadowy indigo of midnight. The darkness is broken here and there by the night watchman’s flashlight that throws a grainy and fading beam across the construction site, the full moon and blinking stars, lamplight, and the cozy lit windows of the watchman’s office. Standing silently silhouetted against this backdrop are the buildings and machinery of the construction site.
When the little kitten peeks from behind a truck tire, her little presence is surprising and endearing. An unseen—but heard—dog, speeding car, and rumbling train interrupt the calm night and disquiets the night watchman. Again, the kitten makes a surprising and endearing entrance. The little gray ball of fluff is another bright spot in the night—a friend to keep loneliness at bay—and as the sun rises, the promise of a sunny morning for the watchman’s children will delight readers.
Kitten and the Night Watchman is a quiet, poignant story that would be an often-read choice for home and classroom libraries.
Ages 4 – 8
Simon and Schuster, A Paula Wiseman Book, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481461917
Discover more about Taeeun Yoo, her books, and her art on her website.
Happy Kitten Month Activity
A Little Ball of Kitten
This happy 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
You can find Kitten and the Night Watchman at these booksellers
Picture Book Review