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Friday, November 27, 2015

CEPHALOPOD COFFEE HOUSE: THE SECRETS OF LOST CATS (AND SOME AWESOME CHILDREN'S BOOKS)


Welcome to this month's edition of Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers for the discussion of works they have enjoyed over the previous month. If you wish, check out The Armchair Squid's Coffeehouse and add yourself to the discussion list. I took a break last month, but I am back this month with some gusto. I read four books this month: one adult book and four children's books. I know, I know, I'm 26 years old and beyond children's literature - however, I want to write children's lit some day and love getting ideas on how to formulate literature for children. The three I read this month were really creative.



The "big girl" or adult book I read this month was The Secret of Lost Cats: One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love by Dr. Nancy Davidson. Dr. Davidson is a psychotherapist and the memoir starts out with her losing her cat, Zak. She fortunately finds Zak, with some of her clients' help (she contacted a psychic who led her to Zak) and after she finds Zak, she takes up the cause of noticing lost cat posters on her travels. Through these posters she learns different meanings of love. In the story of one poster, she comes out as a lesbian. Back in the 1950s when she was growing up, she discovered a book about the deviancy of homosexuality. This threw Dr. Davidson into a deep depression and kept it repressed until the mid-1970s. Her sister had just died and her mother was visiting. The sister was her mother's favorite and through Dr. Davidson's spite of saying, "you loved her better than me because she was not a lesbian," the mother came out and said, "I accept you for who you are, but it makes me sad that most of the world will not accept my daughter for who she is." That was poignant and an important lesson in the book.

Throughout the book we not only see human attachment to cats, but through these posters we see how humans belong, form relationships with others in those turbulent times, and how communities are former. Although the call number was 636, the Dewey Decimal system for animal non-fiction, it totally could fit into the 616, the Dewey Decimal number for psychology. I chuckled a bit and had a new found appreciation for why psychology subjects were so close to the animal books - they really do tie together well. I would recommend The Secret of Lost Cats: One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love by Dr. Nancy Davidson.


The four children's books I read were The Day The Crayons Came Home, a Maine Coon's Haiku, Ouch!, and What Snowmen Do At Night. I LOVED The Day The Crayons Came Home. The Day The Crayons Came Home is the sequel to the 2013 book The Day The Crayons Quit. Both are cute stories, but the humor is great. I loved hot red's's adventures because he is so clueless. He thought he was in New Jersey, but the postcard he sent Duncan (the human the crayons are protesting against) is from Egypt. The end when they come home, he tells the one crayon, "I saw the Great Wall of China while visiting Cleveland." It was such a great book.

I have a Maine Coon cat and wanted to check out the haiku book. I saw it at work one day and had to get it. The haiku are about six different types of cats. It's a really creative concept and I enjoyed the book. What Snowmen Do At Night is in the same vain as The Day The Crayons Came Home. Hilarious.

Ouch! by Natalie Babbit was interesting. She's the author of The Terrible Things, which is an allegory of the Holocaust (for those who aren't sure what an allegory is, it's a story that can be interpreted as having hidden meanings - usually historical, philosophical, ethical, or political. Babbit told her story using animals to illustrate an adult concept of the Holocaust. Animals are supposedly thought to be less frightening to kids and this approach might ease a child into a concept like the Holocaust) and Ouch! reminded me of that book. However, instead of the Holocaust, it was based on old folklore. A baby boy is born, it's prophesied that he will marry a princess, the king gets wind of it and wants that baby boy destroyed (he's a commoner). That plan is foiled and 18 years later before he marries the princess, he has to take a trip to see the devil to get a golden hair for the king. I actually enjoyed it.

6 comments:

  1. No one is too old to read children's literature. So much of it is so good and the choices expand so far beyond where they were at my daughter's age. Thanks for sharing your finds!

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    1. That's true! I'm 26 and I remember a lot of meh books when I was a child. I will admit that I do like a lot of children's books published today - I said to my library boss, "it's great because it seems like they now publish these children's books for adults as well... I guess so adults can enjoy them as they read to their children."

      I usually find these books as I sort through interlibrary loans. I get curious and check them out.

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  2. I'm far older than you and still read "childrens' " books. We have that Snowmen one and my boys love it. If you're interested in some out-there but great new reads try ONE by Kathryn Otoshi (amazing) and DINOTRUX by Chris Gall. I could go on all day...

    Never fear about what you read. If you want to write kids books, you need to read them. Lots and lots of them. If you ever have kids, it's be good practice for you to know books they will love as much as you do. I've been a mom for 19 years, and my youngest two are 6 and 3. We read together nearly every night. Best gift of my time every day.

    Thanks for sharing!
    V:)
    http://vsreads.com

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    1. Thanks, Veronica! I will have to see if the library I work for carries those books. If not...I'll definitely buy them. I always love hearing what our children patrons chatter about as they walk through the library. That's how I found some other children's books (and movies). I also work with a pre-school teacher and the books she puts on hold look really interesting too - she has inspired some of the reads as well.

      That's true! I really want to write foreign language books for children and learners of the language. I'm planning an Arabic book for babies. Feelings. I finished writing it since it is only words... but I want to see where I can publish it and who would be interested in illustrating it. Hopefully come first of the year I'll be taking Arabic lessons again and can write longer stories. I have one story written in German as well.

      Jessica

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  3. Never apologize for reading! Too many people don't. I heard about the book The Day the Crayons Quit but didn't know there was a sequel; I may have to go over to the library and read them :)

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    1. That's true!

      I would totally recommend all of the children's books I posted. I'm a cat person and working on a book of travel poetry (for young adults and adults)... so it gave me some ideas. :)

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