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The Improbable Cat Hardcover – August 10, 2004

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–In this story of a supernatural and omnivorous cat, 12-year-old David is suspicious when a kitten seems to stupefy his family into obeying its orders when they pat it. The boy is immune to this magic, being allergic to cats and loyal to his dog, Billy. Ahlberg piles on some wonderful detail as the moony and distracted parents cater to the cat's exotic tastes and the animal gets bigger and bigger. On seeing the creature, David's friend George utters an astonished "Christ!" When David returns from a school camping trip, he finds the cat has morphed into a chair-sitting animal drinking wine from a glass, his father is drunk, and the household is a darkened dump. The boy takes action but neither poisoning, trickery, nor hand-to-paw combat work to defeat the devilishly powerful cat. It takes Billy and all of his canine friends to drive the feline from the house. This story reads like an extended folktale, with vocabulary that will challenge younger readers both with British expressions and by Ahlberg's literate narrator. With its small format and Bailey's appealing black-line drawings, this book is likely to appeal to readers younger than the appropriate audience. But for those sophisticated children who love a scary story, this grounds the supernatural scariness in a very literal, frighteningly realistic, and violent setting in the manner of cinema and television. Readers: Beware the cat.–Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

It all begins when David's family takes in a stray kitten. At least that's what the creature appears to be. But David and his faithful dog, Billy, immediately sense something terribly amiss. Then indeed "something crazy—impossible—horrific" happens. . . .

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 107 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; English Language edition (August 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385731868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385731867
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,189,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Oxzillia Schmitt on January 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read this book because my five-year-old brother was reading it and my mom told me it was scary. I had finished it in less than a day. It is such and intrancing and wierd story and told with such atmosphere that I couldn't stay away from it! I must admit, however, it is not for young readers. I had to warn my mom of all the places to skip when reading it to my brother since he would not stop reading it either.

It is about a cat that is hypnotising a family, all except for their son who sees the cat for what it is. Then the boy goes to camp. When he comes back... the house has been entirely diskept, the cat the only thing people are caring about and the cat-I will say no more.

This book is probably for ages eight and up-not for five-year-olds. It is really creepy though and worth the read...if you dare!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By This Girl on November 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A disturbing tale, in which humans are terrorized by a malevolent cat. High quality writing, somewhat reminiscent of a Stephen King tale. Dog lovers will like the outcome; cat lovers may find the story a bit biased against felines. The drawings are exquisite, displaying marvelous crosshatching technique.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Atmosphere is a difficult thing to create in a children's book. Because of the nature of writing for children, most authors give their stories a kind of one-dimensional feel. I best knew of Alan Ahlberg as a picture book writer, prior to finding this tale. He wrote adorable stories like (I kid you not), "The Little Cat Baby". Weirder still, "The Little Cat Baby" came out at the same time as "The Improbable Cat". It's as if Ahlberg wanted to tell the same story but through two entirely different lenses. "Cat Baby" is all sweetness and light and cuddly adorablenesses. "Improbable Cat", on the other hand, is made up of darkness and insanity and mood and horror. In spite of its small size, this is a book for kids between fourth and sixth grade. It's an exercise in atmosphere.

Writing years later, our hero in this book is twelve-year-old David Burrell. He lives a pretty normal life with his librarian father, part-time teacher mom, and typical annoying little sister Josie. One day, while the rest of the family is outside, a small kitten limps into the backyard looking oh-so-cute. David is allergic to cats and during its arrival he stays in his room. He cannot help but notice that there's something odd about the animal. Once the family has petted it and taken it inside, it stops limping. It never meows or purrs, "or, as far as I could see, even washed itself". There's something definitely wrong with this cat. There's something wrong with Billy's family too. They start to change. They spend all their free time buying the cat elaborate meals, stroking it, and playing television shows that it likes. When they aren't doing these things they're distracted, acting like hypnotized goons rather than a real loving family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ward on July 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
My nana got me this book from her library and i read it once and can not stop reading it i love it so much
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