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If Not for the Cat Library Binding – September 21, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Library Binding: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (September 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060596783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060596781
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 10.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,625,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4–Each of the 17 haiku in this collection explores the essence of an animal, the words forming a sort of riddle answered in Rand's accompanying double-page illustration. The title poem, "If not for the cat/And the scarcity of cheese,/I could be content," features a mouse looking at a bewhiskered nose through a hole; a jellyfish drifts across a spread in "Boneless, translucent,/We undulate, undulate,/Gelatinously." Prelutsky shows his command of word choice through a minimalist form that is perfectly matched by Rand's control of his mixed-media artwork to create a wonderful celebration of the art of haiku. This book, like George Shannon's Spring (Greenwillow, 1996) and Dawnine Spivak's Grass Sandals (Atheneum, 1997), shows the continuity and vitality of this ancient poetic form.–Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 3. Quiet in tone and, like traditional haiku, taking inspiration from the natural world, these 17 poems express the points of view of individual animals, from mouse to moth, from skunk to crow. Each turn of the page brings a new verse, illustrated with a variety of media but primarily brushed ink and watercolors. The wide, double-page spreads offer plenty of space for illustrations, but Rand approaches the compositions with admirable subtlety and restraint in the use of color and detail, and he creates a series of dramatic scenes. In the title verse, a little mouse cowers on the dark side of his mouse hole while a cat's nose, mouth, and whiskers appear in his lighted doorway. White letters on the black page proclaim, "If not for the cat, / And the scarcity of cheese, / I could be content." The best of these poems play with sounds and words in an illuminating, satisfying manner, and even the more prosaic have the requisite 17 syllables, which teachers will appreciate. The appealing, accessible haiku verses and the large-scale, beautiful artwork will make this the go-to book for haiku to read aloud in classrooms. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Jack Prelutsky has filled more than fifty books of verse with his inventive wordplay, including the national bestsellers The Wizard, Scranimals, and The New Kid on the Block. He is also the author of Be Glad Your Nose is on your Face, a collection of his most celebrated verses. He was named the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Jack Prelutsky lives in Washington State.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Now I have a book to be excited about.
E. R. Bird
I use it in my 3rd grade classroom to use while teaching poetry and the kids love it.
Lulu
Beautiful illustrations and the haikus are absolutely lovely.
A. Gonzales

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For years and years now a curse has been floating over Jack Prelutsky's head. The curse reads, and I am quoting here, "Thou shalt make no silly poem books without being compared, first and foremost, to Shel Silverstein at all times". Mr. Prelutsky has labored under this curse for years, finding his own way to express himself but undoubtedly gritting his teeth whenever someone, however innocently, says, "It's good. But I think I like 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' better". View now Jack Prelutsky's greatest hour. In this, quite possibly the best book of haiku for children, he has teamed with remarkable watercolor artist Ted Rand to bring us one of the most beautiful, most well-written, and most deeply moving books of poetry to hit the market in a long long time. I don't usually bite my cheek in frustration when a book is not awarded a Caldecott Honor after publication, but I do so now (painfully) in spades.

The book contains seventeen sweet and simple haikus. The titular poem reads, "If not for the cat / And the scarcity of cheese / I could be content". This sort of sets the tone for the rest of the book. For once, Prelutsky isn't afraid to bring out the big guns. He throws out large words that kids will learn simply by reading the poems in the context in which they occur. Says a jellyfish of deep blue, "Boneless, translucent / We undulate, undulate, / Gelatinously". The humor of these poems is of a slower sweeter nature than you'll find in books like, "Baby Uggs Are Hatching". A particularly Yoda-like sloth comments with baby on its chest, "I am slow I am / Slowest of the slow I am / In my tree I am". I better stop copying down these poems word for word, but you get the idea. They're all remarkably well-written and some carry a slight philosophical bent.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Julie Hahnke on December 4, 2004
Format: Library Binding
A visual feast.

A literary delight.

(You'll feel for the mouse.)

Haiku is simple enough in theory: it's three lines, each with five syllables, seven and then five again. Here, poet Prelutsky and illustrator Rand show how the simple can be made sublime in the hands of true masters.

A third-grade friend, having looked at the book and heard the 'rules' of Haiku, immediately composed a poem to her pet hamster:

We scurry like mice.

We run from nighttime to dawn.

We are soft and cute.

(I'd mention that my friends are now e-mailing each other in Haiku, but if you hadn't read the book, you wouldn't understand...)

This book is a treasure for children of all ages.

And would someone PLEASE get that poor mouse some cheese!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. White on September 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This anthology of poetry includes a variety of haiku poems by Jack Prelutsky. The poems share a common theme of creatures including both animals and insects. An index at the back of the book details each creature's name.

This book was extremely interesting to me because I enjoy writing Haiku, but I know it is often disliked by young students because it is often quite symbolic in nature. In contrast, Prelutsky's collection is somehow insightful enough to keep adults intrigued, yet simple enough for children to enjoy. I think Prelutsky's work in this collection might inspire some young writers to try Haiku poetry.

In the classroom, I might use this book as a morning mystery reading...reading one poem aloud each day and encouraging students to guess the animal being represented. Then I would reveal the animal at the end of the day. I would also encourage students to find the patterns in the words and attempt to write their own animal Haikus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Gonzales on May 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I use this book when I am teaching forms of poetry and when I am teaching the Word Choice element of the 6+1 traits of writing. Beautiful illustrations and the haikus are absolutely lovely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. Beresford on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is such a sweet book..................even though it is aimed at children, it caught my attention in the waiting room of our vet's office. I was recently involved in an arts exhibit where writers in our community wrote haiku poems and we visual artists made art to express our reactions to or interpretations of the poems. It was very successful and so is this collaboration between Prelutsky and Rand.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Jack Prelutsky, If Not for the Cat (Greenwillow, 2004)

The problem with If Not for the Cat, Jack Prelutsky's marvelous book of guess-the-animal senryu, is that there's not nearly enough of it. It runs forty pages, which is about right for the preschool set, but couldn't we have done one senryu and awesome illustration per page, instead of giving each a two-page spread? Yes, this is very good stuff indeed, introducing toddlers not only to animals but to (pretty well-crafted) poetry as well. Sequel, please! *** 1/2
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a fan of Jack Prelutsky -- most of his children's poetry is nonsensical garbage, in all honesty -- but this book of haiku is first rate, lavishly illustrated, and worth a read by anyone of any age. Each haiku is about an animal; here are three:

From nests in the clouds
We survey our dominion
With telescope eyes an Eagle

Safe inside my pouch
Sleeps the future of my kind --
Delicate and frail a Kangaroo

Raucously we caw.
Your straw men do not fool us.
We burgle your corn. a blackbird

Every public library should have a copy of this wonderful book.
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