High Variance

Jenny and the Cat Club #IMWAYR

Over the summer I discovered a whole community of folks on the Internet who read and blog about kids books. It was very exciting and I had great fun reading their work and sharing mine here, here, here, here and here. Then the Fall came and I fell into the teaching vortex. Sunday nights turned into lecture preparation marathons, and I’ve been spending Monday mornings and afternoons presenting the fruits of this labor. I’ve scratched my blogging itch on Teach Better, but the Kid Book Review section of High Variance has lain fallow. What better way to celebrate my first Monday off in ages (for Thanksgiving Break), than with an #IMWAYR post!

When I was a kid, one of my very favorite books was The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. The main character was not bad or good–Like people in the real world, Pickles was a mix of both. He was born strong and ambitious, but with no idea what to do with his gifts. He spends his time terrorizing smaller cats, but eventually learns to be kind and finds his true calling working in a fire house.

It wasn’t until I went to buy this book for my daughter a few years ago that I discovered Esther Averill had written a whole series of wonderful books about cats living in New York City! And in 2003, the New York Review reprinted most of them with nice affordably priced hardcover bindings. The books revolve around the adventures of a shy but strong (stronger than Pickles even) black cat named Jenny Linsky and her friends in the Cat Club that meets in her garden.

The series contains stories for a variety of ages starting with the Jenny’s Birthday Book for very little kids, moving to The Fire Cat which is an early reader, and culminating in several chapter books like the The Hotel Cat and Captains of the City Streets, that make great bedtime reading.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading these books, the clear starting point is Jenny and the Cat Club where you learn how Jenny joined the club and meet all its colorful members. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.

Sheila at Book Journey started It’s Monday! What are You Reading?, and Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host kidlit versions. All three sites are great places to find new books for yourself and your kids.