Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories about Jenny Linsky (New York Review Children's Collection)
Written and Illustrated by: Esther Averill
Recommended Ages: 4-8
A friend of mine recently told me about a series of books that she and her second grade daughter were reading (and thoroughly enjoying). She explained that they were originally published in the 1940's, ran for many years, went out of print and were re-released a few years ago. I was intrigued. She brought over a copy of Jenny and the Cat Club, and I was totally smitten.
Jenny Linsky is a shy, little black cat that lives with Captain Tinker, an old sailor. Jenny and the Cat Club is the earliest collection of cat stories in which we are introduced to Jenny, the only cat in the neighborhood that does not belong to the cat club. The club is made up of cats named Mr. President, Butterfly, Romulus and Remus, Macaroni, Sinbad and The Duke. Jenny hears them outside at night and wishes she could join them. But she is too shy to approach them, and for the longest time just observes from a distance. In the first story, we watch Jenny as she gains confidence and comes into her own as a skater. Soon after that, she is made a member of the cat club.
There are a total of five chapters in the book, and each one can stand alone by itself. These are perfect bed-time stories in an old-fashioned, but still very relevant way. Issues like friendship, loyalty and even jealousy are addressed in a quiet, but deft manner. By the end of chapter one, you find that you really care for Jenny and the gentle way she faces the challenges that arise.
I have to say something about the illustrations, which I found quite charming. They are simple, yet beautiful, mostly black and white, with just a dash of color thrown in. Jenny, in particular, is quite a sight with her red scarf (knit by the old sailor) draped around her neck. Kids will be drawn into the marvelous world of these cats, which has a very familiar home-like quality to it.
After reading Jenny and the Cat Club, I found that I was captivated by Esther Averill and had to find out what other books she had written. On my search I came across The Fire Cat and it took my breath away. I remembered that The Fire Cat was one of the first books I checked out from the library and read on my own. I was swept back in time to the thrill of that very major accomplishment many years ago. It gave me goosebumps to see it again. It's still in print, so if you have an emerging reader you might want to check it out. Or perhaps, like me, you remember picking up and reading it, or another of Esther Averill's books, a long time ago.
The Fire Cat (I Can Read Book 1)
Written by: Esther Averill
Recommended Ages: 5-7 year olds (early reader)