I’m participating in Kid Lit Frenzy’s 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.
I’m a sucker for a cat book. A catcentric cover is the one surefire guarantee that I will pick up a book. So of course I couldn’t resist checking out The Cat of Strawberry Hill: A True Story from the library.
I mean, look at this cat:
Pumpkin is pretty fetching in Lesia Sochor’s sweet watercolors, but even more arresting in real life:
Although The Cat of Strawberry Hill is subtitled “A True Story,” it’s only partly a true story. The owners of the Strawberry Hill Inn in Rockport, Maine, found a kitten at a rest stop on Route 1 and took it home with them to become the inn cat. But the story starts before that, with the kitten getting lost. The author creates a backstory for the kitten–a family on vacation to leaf peep in Maine–and spends the first few pages of the story imagining the kitten getting separated from her family at the rest stop, chased by a dog, tumbling down a cliff, and pecked by a seagull, before being rescued by the kindly couple on their way to their inn. This part of the story really didn’t work for me–perhaps because I got stuck at the implausibility of anyone intentionally letting their kitten out of the car at a rest stop to play with leaves. Would anybody be that stupid? Cats are many things, but they are not dogs.
After the early misadventure and trauma, not too much happens to Pumpkin, but inn life seems like a good match for the curious and people-loving cat. She greets guests as they arrive at the front desk, swirls her way to their rooms, follows them down to the water, naps in their laps if they sit for long enough on the deck. A day of big adventure might include watching the laundry spin or “hunting” the chickadees safely enjoying their lunch on the other side of the glass window. It’s a quiet kind of story, with a lovely final page: “Her purrs will tell you stories of the sea and the sky. But she will never tell you where she came from.”
Sadly, Pumpkin passed to the Great Kitty Beyond in 2012.
I might pair this book with Roger Mader’s gorgeous Lost Cat: