Book Review – Leonard (My Life As A Cat) by Carlie Sorosiak

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Leonard (My Life As A Cat) by Carlie the Sorosiak is one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time. I chose to read this to my granddaughter and found myself struggling not to read ahead when she wasn’t around. The author has a wicked sense of humour and a profound sense of humanity. We laughed out loud more than once.

Leonard is actually an alien who meant come to Earth as a human and spend one month in Yellowstone Park working as ranger. Unfortunately, something went wrong and he arrived hundreds of miles away, in the middle of a flash flood and in the body of a cat. He was rescued by a ten-year-old named Olive who is also a unique individual and going through tribulations of her own.

Leonard can type to communicate and can understand every species on the planet. It becomes Olive’s mission get him to the rendezvous point within a month’s time so that he can continue his immortal, hive-like, logical life. Olive tries to enrich his stay by fulfilling his unusual bucket-list, unusual that is, for a cat. However, a lot can change in a month. Both Leonard and Olive develop deep feelings for each and as the date approaches, we also find ourselves torn.

There are complications galore included the near impossibility of getting to the rendezvous point on time. Sorosiak builds the suspense and our angst over how this story will end. But she handles it like a master.

This story is about family, friendship, acceptance, love, courage, and sacrifice. My granddaughter and I were in tears when it was over, realizing that there could never be a more perfect ending.

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Petscapade (Mystery Book Club 1) by Nadishka Aloysius. Book Review.

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Petscapade is the story of four girls and a boy, 9 years old, who form a mystery book club. When a purebred kitten goes missing they decide to use their knowledge to solve the mystery of whether the cat has wandered off or been stolen. The novel starts out quite slowly and the reader needs to show patience as this is a gently paced book. The cover fails to inform or interest the reader.

About a quarter of the way through the novel I discovered it was taking place in Sri Lanka. I’m not sure if I missed that indicator earlier on. It’s important to realize this as the way that children speak is unusually articulate and adult for 9 year olds.

“Yes, it is rather,” agreed Lal, with a grin.

There are several cultural behaviors that may strike North Americans as unusual if they are not aware of the context. For example, the children are not allowed to bring fiction books to school to read and their social interactions are strictly controlled. Once the reader realizes the environment, it becomes quite intriguing to learn new customs and terms.

The story is told in a straightforward manner with little emotion. However, There are moments of humor.

Cara laughed. “If every grumpy person is a criminal, we would all be in jail!”

The author doesn’t shy away from controversial viewpoints.I think this book should launch some interesting discussions about our abysmal treatment of animals such as supporting pet stores, eating meat, and abandoning pets.

I’m not sure political remarks belong in a book for 9 year olds though.

“And she is Tamil…” Amal broke off.

There is one beautiful paragraph that will give food for thought.

“I have taught my son that sometimes, you need to intervene to help others. I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines watching the world fall apart. Children must be taught to take whatever action they can to make the world a better place.”

The case of the missing cat, which turns out to be cats actually, is resolved positively even though the children are discouraged and sometimes condemned for their actions in trying to locate the missing kitten. The lesson of perseverance is worthwhile.

Cat Rhymes for Kids

Some well-known and unfamiliar rhymes about cats, most with different interpretations.

Cat masks for followup fun. Add elastic. Print on heavy paper about 7 inches wide for a child.

Finger puppet mouse. Glue edges together for front and back. Print 1.5 inches wide.

Read one of my favorite cat books, Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That,  reviewed here.

What Did I Put in My Mouth? – Recycled Sundays

After reading a particularly good article on contagious diseases, I provided separate bathroom cups, towels, and face cloths for my husband and myself. I made sure our toothbrushes were always different colors. The segregated cups and towels often fell by the wayside, but the idea of someone else accidentally using my toothbrush was more grotesque than sharing a Q-tip.

When my children arrived bathroom hygiene became trickier. The towel on the floor generally belong to my daughter and the scrunched up one behind the toilet was my son’s. Fortunately, their toothbrushes were smaller than mine, so when mix-up occurred, it was usually between them. Santa helped out by bringing brushes decorated with Muppets and Bugs Bunny cartoon characters. The problem now was who got radical Gonzo and you got stuck with silly Tweety. We muddled along, everyone attempting to keep their own germs. Everyone, that is, except Virgil.

Virgil is a cat. He was named after the chimpanzee in the movie Project X who caused all the trouble at the research lab. Virgil, the chimp, was charming, intelligent and strong willed. My Virgil is charming and strong-willed.

Like most cats, Virgil loves to swat dripping water. With two kids in the house, you can bet there’s always a leaking faucet somewhere. I learned to rinse out the sink and the bathtub before using them.

One day, as I worked on marking, I saw movement in my peripheral vision, (a woman with one husband, two kids, and three cats, and a classroom full of kids develops rabbit vision – able to see in 360°). Virgil slunk by and raced to the basement.


“Kids,” I called. “Virgil just got something in his mouth and the way he’s acting, I suspect he shouldn’t have it.”

Let the chase begin.

Gleeful screams of laughter, thumps and crashes followed.

“It’s a toothbrush!” my son squealed.

A snake twisted through my stomach.

“Take it away from him and throw it in the trash,” I shouted.

More gleeful screams of laughter, thumps and crashes.

After supper, I went to brush my teeth. As soon as I finished, I realized no toothbrushes were missing from the container. Four people, four toothbrushes.

I bellowed to my son, “Where is the toothbrush you took from Virgil?”

He smiled proudly and stated, “I got it back.”

“Which one was it?”

Innocent shrug. Yuck! Feeling like Lucy after Snoopy licked her lips, I gargled and rinsed and until my mouth stung. I explained to my son, yet again, the importance of listening to my entire instructions.

Last month we took Virgil to the vet for his yearly check up. He had the beginnings of gum disease.  The cat had to be put under anesthetic to have his teeth scraped. When we picked him up, we were given the dual enzyme cleansing system – a box of animal toothpaste and a tiny toothbrush with a few bristles shaped into a point. If we want to Virgil to stay healthy, we’re supposed to brush his teeth.

Right! I have enough trouble getting my kids to brush. How does a cat swish and spit? Of course, Virgil has no excuse to steal anyone else’s toothbrush now. He has his own red one. Then again, he’s colorblind. Perhaps I should get him one with a picture of Garfield. Now,of course, he doesn’t want anything to do with toothbrushes.

Let the chase begin.

A Crowbar and a Cat – Recycled Sundays

I bought my daughter a new mattress not knowing this would lead to 12 garbage bags of rubble. I also owed her an apology for blaming the dankness in her room on leftover pizza, bugles, and chocolate chip cookie crumbs. When I pulled her bed away from the wall, I discovered the homeowner’s dreaded enemy – mold.
Why is it that repairs are usually thrust upon people at the most inconvenient times? Major emergency renovations were needed on our first house when I was staying at home, caring for a two-year-old, and expecting another child.
Our first year in our second home, the furnace needed to be replaced on Christmas Eve. So I was not completely surprised to discover our present house needed ripping up, painting, plastering, the removal of the window, and re-tiling all when the forecast read 32° below zero Celsius with a windchill of 48 below expected. When else?
Still two incidents reminded me that I should be grateful for solvable problems. I discovered our bathroom leaking water into the exterior wall, down into the flooring. I realized I had to attack the leak from the bathroom on the opposite side of the wall. What I thought was a little leak between ceramic tiles turned out to be a waterfall through the bathroom window. There I was, crowbar in hand, knee-deep in broken ceramic tiles and soggy wet sheet rock, when I realized I had left my daughter’s bedroom door open. Not only was the floor a mess of splinters, but I had removed the furnace intake vent cover. Where were the cats?
I ran to the bedroom. Patch, our timid cat was peering down the open vent. Luckily he raced out of the room without argument. I shut the bedroom door and went back to my crowbar. Thump, thump, rattle, echo. I realized it wasn’t me making that noise. It sounded like an aluminum shed door. But it seemed to be coming from the basement. I went to the basement.
Then it seemed to be coming from overhead. I quickly counted the cats. Two there, one missing. Virgil, our “try anything doesn’t know the meaning of fear” cat was gone.
I raced back to my daughter’s bedroom and crouched in front of the open vent. The sounds were coming from inside!
“Virgil,” I called.
A pitiful mew came in response. I continue to call and he continued to mew. Finally, his bewildered little face appeared at the opening. Unfortunately, getting in wasthe easy part. A large nail protruded into the vent. Climbing in wa sno threat but coming out, the nail would pierce his skull. It took every bit of sweet talk I had in me to keep him in place while I bent the nail with my bare hands. Since I usually get my kids to open screw cap bottles for me, I can only credit this power to a surge of adrenaline.
Although the nail now was safely bent, Virgil was too spooked to climb back out. I envisioned him racing off in another direction only to fall down the chute and plaster his chubby little body against the furnace filter, setting off the most impressive sparking since my sons sandbox days. How to get the curious cat out? He was as stubborn as a cat can be but I knew the way to his heart. I remembered there were some kitty treats in the kitchen cupboard my son uses to bribe the cats when he brushed them. Virgil would do the fire walk for tuna flavoured treats.
Willing Virgil to stay safely near the entrance of the vent, I waste into the kitchen, my heart pounding. I threw open the cupboard door, grabbed the container, and shook it to ensure there was enough inside to coax him out. I whirrled around, prepared to dash back to the bedroom, and tripped over Virgil. He recognize that sound.
After I shut the bedroom door, I fed Virgil, and the other two as well since it was somewhat of a celebration, I flopped down in front of the television. A bit of mindless morning TV should calm my nerves. The Los Angeles earthquake came into focus on my screen. As I rubbed Virgil’s chin, I watched entire streets burn. I realized having to knock a hole in the wall at 40 below wasn’t so bad after all. Besides, I had my favourite kitty to console me. I was actually pretty darn lucky.
Originally published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times News,
January 23, 1994

How to Honor Dead Pets – Recycled Sundays

Dogs and cats have been treated like people for generations. They’ve been fed table scraps, allowed to sleep in their master’s bed, and even worn little caps, shirts, and jackets. Perhaps the next logical step is to make them accountable, much the way we do our children. In return for love, shelter, good nutrition, and support, we now expect them to get good report cards.

Once I was used to the idea of my cats receiving mail from their fact, I should have expected the next step – report cards. These are modern report cards, mind you, with checklists instead of A to E, yet an owner still knows when one’s pet has not measured up. All our cats are all treated the same, fed the same, and kept in the same house, yet their checkmarks translate to A, C, and D (my Virgil). This lends support to the nature over nurture proponents.

The cats can’t read the report card, and since their indoor pets, I can’t ground them until they improve. What could I do to make the lower achiever shape up? Cut back in his tummy rubs? Use an inferior brand of kitty litter? Send him to the pen? Perhaps, I could refuse to honor his memory.

A number of people have had their pets cremated in the past and the ashes returned in an urn for the family meant. I could arrange them in order of achievement. Virgil would be way at the back, behind the matches. Other pet owners purchase a pet burial site. I could give to him the economy headstone, made from compressed tunafish cans. People have had their pets stuffed by taxidermists and tucked in between the fern and the stereo. I suspect this would genuinely traumatize the two remaining cats.

The latest fad in honoring the dearly departed Fidos and Felixes is for clothing. For the human. By saving the hair from the pet brushes, the owners can have a permanent keepsake. The first is spun and then make it into hats or mitts, or in the case of collies, even a sweater. Some people might get off on the idea that they could broke their dogs tummy and their own as well. Dog spinner Alese Schroder of Cave Junction, Oregon commented in a newspaper article that the “doggie” odor of wet fur shouldn’t bother anyone who loved their pet. How romantic. No scent of Old Spice on that man. He’s 100% Brut Canine.

Where do owners store the fur when collecting it? Are there giant fur balls in stacking cartoons in the corner of the closet waiting for Foo-foo to bite the dust? Can they use fur off the couch and from behind the stove?

What I really want to know is, how does wearing a sweater made from dog for affect a man’s life? Do cats hiss when he passes by? Do large dogs become aggressive and fight for their territory? Does he shed? Does he get fleas? Does he get overwhelming urges to scratch the inside of this ear with his bare foot? Does he carry frisbees and balls in his mouth? Would he rather chase a car than drive it? Does the lady of the house pat him on the head when he is good and whack him with the newspaper when he’s annoying? Does he drop to the middle of the floor when he gets a private itch and start nosing for the problem?

How do you care for this kind of clothing? If it’s made from cat’s fur, it would have to be dryclean only. No self-respecting cat allows anyone to wash him in a tub. Then again, perhaps it can only be wiped with a tongue- shaped cloth.

Do you store pet-fur clothing on a padded hanger, folded in a drawer, or rolled into a ball at the foot of the bed? Do you take it to a pet grooming shop when it starts to lose its shape? With three cats, I would probably be able to coordinate an entire feline ensemble.

Actually, this could be Virgil’s only opportunity to get an A in anything. He does have the softest fur under his chin. There’s probably enough to make little slippers. Of course, I’d have to fight the urge to leap on the kitchen counter every morning and lick the milk out of the bottom of the unrinsed cereal bowls, right after I finished shredding the living room furniture.

Chronicle-Journal/Times-News October 3, 1993.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Nat The Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby. Illustrated by Tara Anderson. Book Review.

Buy link – Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That

Nat is a large orange tabby cat who can sleep anywhere, any time. He sleeps in dresser drawers, baskets, a cooking pot, under blankets, and even upside down on someone’s chair. If you ever had a cat you know that they can be comfortable in any position. Nat sleeps “flopping halfway off a shelf, folded over on himself, with his paws all tucked inside, or with limbs flung open wide.” The book following a cat’s sleeping positions would be come boring fairly quickly but Anderson’s illustrations also feature a younger black and white kitten who continually tries to engage the tabby. When Nat is sleeping in a drawer, the black and white kitten is waving a toy fish on a string over his face. When Nat the cat’s sleeping in front of the bedroom door, a black and white kitten is throwing a ball at him. His attempts to awaken Nat become zanier as the book goes on, he dresses and poses like a pirate, a wizard, and an engineer actually driving a toy train. Happily, he gets his wish when the lights are all turned out. Nat joins him in his insane frolicking.

This is a rhyming book and, fortunately, the meter and rhyme holds true throughout. Because there are one or two sentences on each page, the pace does not get bogged down in contrived rhyming. The phrase “Nat the cat can sleep like that!” is repeated throughout the text to good effect.

The illustrations are funny, filled with color and action. The two cats’ personalities and zest for life comes through clearly. The last page, without words, is a humorous twist.

Cat lovers will enjoy this book, both adults and children alike.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A Self-Absorbed Cat – Chester by Mélanie Watt. Book Review.

If you have a cat, you and your child will totally get this picture book. If not, younger children might have difficulty understanding the concept.

The author, Mélanie Watt, tries to write a book about a mouse but Chester, the cat, hijacks the book with his red marker. He inserts words and sentences, scribbles out what he doesn’t like, and alters the illustrations. His contradictions escalate until the author gives up arguing and decides to humiliate Chester by drawing him in a pink tutu with a crown.

The back and forth throughout the text is quite humorous and embodies the inflated sense of entitlement that cats often have. I think this book would be suitable for children of school age and up as the concept relies on an understanding of sarcasm, debate, and story creation. I think the humor may be suited to parents more than children.

I was disappointed with the outdated illustration. It smacks of sexism and other issues regarding LGBT that I wish she had avoided. My granddaughter didn’t understand why Chester would be offended drawn as a princess ballerina. It would have been just as funny if Watt had pictured him in a clown suit or made him look like a dog with a leash.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Rocky the Cat Who Barks by Joanna Joe Napoli and Marie Kane. Illustrated by Tamara Petrosino. Book Review.


This is a simple picture book story for early readers that is completely believable. Rocky is a dog, possibly a beagle, who lives with an elderly lady. One day she has to move into an apartment building with her son. This part I didn’t understand because it said no dogs were allowed. But Rocky moved in with the family of two wild children and five cats.

The cats were hilarious. Misha, the big mean mother looks like she could fight a pitbull. Cappuccino has fur like a lamb, Crystal has long hair like a fashion model, Latte is lean with blue eyes, and Cally is the only one smaller than Rocky. When Rocky has the audacity to bark at the cats, they surround him, unsheathe their claws, arch their backs and hiss. From that point on, the cats bully the dog mercilessly.

The two children are worse than the cats. They rollerskate around the house, knock over furniture, squirt water guns, and swing on the curtains. The cats ignore them but the dog is terrified until, one day, things turn around. The naughty children decide to dress two of the cats up in doll clothes. Rocky and the other three cats are terrified. But when the children try to stuff the two cats into their backpacks, Rocky comes to their rescue barking louder than he ever had. The children’s mother intervenes and the cats are rescued. From that point on, Rocky is welcomed as part of the group. He is treated like a cat, hence the title of the book “Rocky the Cat Who Barks.”

The pictures are hilarious and if you have ever owned cats or seen them around the smaller dog intruding on their territory, you know they are a force to be reckoned with. There are one or two framed pictures on each  page with words beside her below. The style is cartoonish.

This is a fun, funny book especially if you love cats.

Some interesting discussions should arise from reading this book. The children, referred to as monsters, mistreat the pets. At the beginning, Rocky expects to be the boss of the home and is quickly informed of his mistake. When he comes to the aid of his new family, it is then that he is accepted. A good reminded that we need to give before we receive.

Click on the book covers for more information or to purchase the book.



Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Getting to the Vet on Time – Is It Possible? Recycled Sundays.

It’s bad enough when my mailbox is stuffed with bills, requests for donations, and rejection letters, but I really hate it when my cats get more personal mail than I do.

Their veterinarian sends them postcards. At least, they don’t picture domestic cats lazing in the sunshine on southern beaches wearing sunglasses and sipping kittenaid. The postcards picture a cat with his dentures in a glass and a dog with an ice pack on his toothache. It reminds them to brush regularly (in our house that is as often as they crown a new monarch in London) and make an appointment to have their teeth cleaned. I guess I can do without those kinds of postcards. Then again, so can my cats since they can’t see two-dimensional pictures anyway.

Vet day in our house resembles a chase scene from the old Keystone Cops movies. Everyone tears around the place, upsetting things, making spectacular collisions, and accomplishing very little. Because of our three cats – Virgil, Patch and Misty – we must go through this three times a year. We learned the only way to catch Virgil is to offer him food. That cat would put his head under a guillotine for kitty snack.

However, Patch has to be cornered. Everyone must act nonchalant. The cat traveling case should be hidden out of sight. Whoever is chosen to catch the animal must behave as though he is only slightly interested in the cat, just pausing for a quick petting. The more interest is shown, the better Patch hides. Once he is apprehended, he pays us back by dropping hair the way a lizard drops his tale or an octopus shoots ink. I suspect he thinks if he sheds enough hair in one spot, we will be fooled and take that to the vet instead. Too many trips in a row and he’ll be needing treatment for baldness.

Misty is almost impossible to catch. Highly suspicious by nature, we must be doubly sly to fool her. She is not drawn to kitty snacks and could live very well without humans, thank you, as long as she had clean litter.  SHE decides when and where she will be petted and by whom. Catching her requires an ambush which must succeed on the first try or the next 20 minutes will involve slamming doors, moving furniture, Olympic leaping, and bandages – for the human, not the cat. Once captured, stuffing her into the travel case is like trying to put bubbles back into soda pop.

I grew tired of all this nonsense, so when Virgil had an appointment, I caught him 15 minutes early and ignored his yowls of protest from the carrying case. Unfortunately, I had promised my children they could come and, of course, their school bus was late that day. They were met with a barrage of commands. “Respond immediately and cooperate completely or you’ll be left behind.” They unloaded their school stuff and then piled into the back seat. I put Virgil in his cage on the front passenger seat. The clock was ticking. Everyone had their assigned roles. This would be a test of our teamwork.

When I parked the car in front of the veterinarian’s, my son jumped up on the sidewalk and dropped the quarter into the meter as ordered. My daughter locked and slammed the sliding passenger door and then stood back. I jumped out and raced around to get the cat from the front passenger seat. Precise drill corp! We were amazing!



Then, I realized the passenger door was locked. My purse was on the floor with the keys in it. WE had made it on time, but not the cat. He was inside his cat cage, locked inside the car beyond my grasp. Fortunately, our vet still used wire hangers.

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, Sunday, January 24, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages