Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Cat With Seven Names

Johnston, Tony (Author)
Davenier, Christine (Illustrator)
Charlesbridge 2013. 36 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781580893817 (hardcover)
9781607346029 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

On an inner city street, a cat visits six neighbours, brightening each of their lives and gaining a new name with each adopted owner. There is the librarian who reads him books and calls him “Stuart Little” and the Mexican opera lover who names him “Placido.” A police officer who talks to him on her beat and shares her burger nicknames him “Mooch.”

Delightful watercolour and pencil illustrations in a loose hand lovingly depict the plump cat in his various settings: sniffing food, meowing in doorways, curling up under covers. Details of the neighbourhood and apartments let us in on personal lives and domestic scenes. Lush pinks and reds add accent and warmth to the autumnal backgrounds. Character is at the centre of the visual storytelling, with Regis and his human companions dominating the oversized rectangular spreads.

Text is conversational and full of colloquialisms and quirks of language. Each character speaks from a unique first-person point of view. Their strong voices are rendered with nuance and expression: “‘Move it, you big lump. I’m on duty,” I said. (Cold day, warm engine). The cat was no dummy.”

It isn’t until his true owner spots the wayward cat on the street, nearly running him over in her surprise and enthusiasm, that the neighbours learn his real name and bond over this community-building feline.

  •  

    Compare the front and back endpapers. Make predictions about the story based on these illustrations. Revisit this activity after reading, reflecting on what you learned.

  •  

    Take turns reading the story aloud, bringing the characters to life through a dramatic reading.

  •  Work with a partner or small group. Invent another character that could live in the neighbourhood and create a character map of this person. Write a short story about this character and Regis that could be included in the book.
  •  

    Examine the book cover and make predictions about the story. What is a community? Create a definition for this concept.

  •  

    With a partner, retell the story using a mind map.

  •  

    After a read-aloud, discuss how the sense of community improved for many people through the cat’s visits. Reconsider your classroom definition.

  •  

    Discuss what fosters inclusion in your community. Can you think of additional ideas that would help? What can you do?

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture