Now how did Barry Moser get my cat to pose for the illustrations he and daughter Cara Moser did for Telling Time with Big Mama Cat? I know that's her with her white undersides and green eyes and exceedingly curious, highly intelligent, utterly feline ways.
Regardless of the artists' model, Dan Harper's Telling Time with Big Mama Cat is one of those children's books in which the text and illustrations work together seamlessly to give children a rich reading and learning experience. Starting at six in the morning, Big Mama Cat goes through the day, telling young readers in a few droll words what she does at each hour, e.g., "It's time for baby Katie's 9:00 a.m. bottle. I clean up any spills." As the hours go by, she takes a couple of naps, sneaks food from Rosie the dog's dish, enjoys an afternoon tea party, and helps with the dishes at night ("My job is the prewash"). It's no wonder Big Mama Cat is big.
What fun children will have spotting the different clocks in the illustrations, and Mama Cat's family has quite a collection of timepieces. The time each one tells corresponds to the time stated in the text, so young readers have a double reinforcement for learning.
But there's even more! The bonanza in this title is the clock face with movable hands on the foldout cover. Young readers can then see that clock as they go from page to page and move its hands to tell the same time as the clocks shown in the illustrations. Absolutely ingenuous! Kids will love it.
This is a season of several top-quality children's books featuring cats. Telling Time with Big Mama Cat is a marvelous choice for young ones who are mastering the skill of telling time. Besides they'll also get to see my cat or at least one that looks very much like her.
Marian Schonfelter is a first-grade teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.