Bad Cat

Written & Illustrated by Tracy-Lee McGuinness-Kelly

“Hey, you, bad cat! How dare you do that?”

Bad Cat–evil feline genius, or just a well-intentioned but misunderstood kitty?  Either way, Bad Cat (the book) is a wildly entertaining tale of mischief and misunderstanding that I highly recommend. The story of a grinning cat with a twinkle in his eye, who is constantly stirring up excitement, Bad Cat is a fun book that teaches both kids and parents a great lesson—that misbehaving occasionally doesn’t make you “bad”, and getting into scrapes isn’t the end of the world, as long as your intentions are good and your heart is in the right place.

At first I wasn’t sure about about recommending Bad Cat.  I was crazy about the book from the very first page, and impressed throughout by so many different aspects of the story—the madcap pace, the irreverent tone, the gorgeous, colourful, cartoony drawings—but there were things that made me think twice.  I was concerned that some of the word play would go over the heads of the young audience (“Bad cat lived in a huge, dirty city. He called it the Big Stinky.”), or that parents might think that Bad Cat’s bad behaviour would influence kids negatively.

In the end, two things made me put aside my reservations:

One, the children to whom I read the story adored it, clamouring for more and insisting that I read it several times in a row, despite the fact that they did not grasp every nuance of the story.  They loved the language and the pictures and the rhythm of it. Piquing a child’s interest in new things is the ultimate goal of reading to them, and Bad Cat did that several times over.

And two, I was reminded once again that it is always preferable to choose a book that is a little bit difficult, as long as it keeps the child’s interest, over a book that is overly simple.  The kids that I read to will be able to enjoy this book for a long time, because beyond the enjoyment they already get from it, they will continue to derive new pleasure from it as they come to understand more of the vocabulary, word play, etc. over time. Bad Cat is challenging, but well-paced and not overlong, so that even fairly young kids can sit through it without losing their patience.

I know of at least a couple of houses in which Bad Cat is an absolute favourite at storytime.  Why not add your house to the list?

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