Three Multi-Tasking Cats Before Breakfast

h1 July 24th, 2012 by jules

Word play with children. It’s how a love for poetry develops, not to mention language development and literacy. Best of all, it’s great fun for them.

Here’s a quick post about an upcoming picture book that delights in clever, quick wordplay. We’ll see this one on library and bookstore shelves in late August, I believe. Michael Hall’s Cat Tale (Greenwillow) is about three eager cats, Lillian, Tilly, and William J., finding their way in the world, word for word.

“They pack some books and kitty chews. They choose a spot. They spot some ewes. They use a box to hide from bees. They do their best to box some fleas.” As you can see, Hall likes to play, in particular, with nouns and verbs. As in, blur their lines. As in, show how one word can be both. As in, homophones. As in, homonyms. As in, ALL OF THE ABOVE, actually (as you’ll see if you read the book). It’s wordplay goodness all-around.

Graphic designer Hall brought us last year’s Perfect Square, featured here at 7-Imp in June, another clever book that looks simple and effortless on the surface but was really what Kirkus called “a colorful, geometric romp.” Just as with that book, Cat Tale is playful, expressive, and a bit of a geometric wonder. (Once again, Hall uses simple shapes for young readers, as you can see in the art featured here today.) It’s a tongue-twisting, but very fun, read-aloud and begs to be shared at a library or classroom story time.

The Publishers Weekly review has already noted, “the puns are never stilted, and Hall’s simple forms and bright colors only complement the verses’ compelling rhythm.” You can see a bit of his bright colors at work here in a couple more spreads, which were rendered using acrylic painted textures and paper cut-outs, all combined digitally.


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CAT TALE. Copyright © 2012 by Michael Hall. Published by Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, New York. All illustrations reproduced with permission of the publisher.

10 comments to “Three Multi-Tasking Cats Before Breakfast”

  1. Too clever!

  2. Oh wow!! Perfect Square was a great book to share with teachers undergoing change and this one looks perfect for kids of any age! What a great addition to a language based classroom!

  3. I had the pleasure of hearing Michael Hall read Perfect Square at a book festival. It was quite a moving experience, that brought out even more layers of the book.

  4. Joanna: Isn’t it, though?

    Stacey: YES. This’d be a great addition to elementary classrooms, esp. K, 1, 2.

    Barbara: Neat. I wish he had a web site, though I could be just missing it.

  5. Oh, oh, oh…I can’t wait for this one now. It deserves a big YEEHAW!

  6. Oh, this is fantastic! Another Michael Hall book to add to the collection.

  7. I can’t wait to read it! This looks like a book that will appear visually like it is intended for toddlers/preschoolers but will in fact best be understood and appreciated by older kids…and adults…like me.

  8. I LOVE the turqoise cat – fabulous. So glad to know about this book. My little is just starting to get puns, too.

  9. I really had to look close at this because I wrote a pun-filled cat book years ago for the Cheerios contest and then sat on it until WriteOnCon. If people like Michael Hall’s books they should like mine, working titled Cat Amounts. Thanks for sharing!

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