I recommend the Bad Kitty whenever I can: kids who want illustrated chapter books, reluctant readers, cat fans, kids who want funny books....I can go on. Sure, they're great for readers who want chapter books slightly more challenging than Magic Tree House, but the humor will encourage older readers who struggle with chapter books. Ever-helpful Uncle Murray pops in and out throughout the narrative to offer nonfiction tidbits about the specific issue Bad Kitty is dealing with (in my favorite, Bad Kitty for President, readers learn about the electoral process).
When patrons ask for books for Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, or Angelina Ballerina fans, I immediately steer them to Cynthia Rylant's adorable Brownie and Pearl series. They are inevitably charmed by this series about a little girl and her cat, who have many adventures.
The books in the Catwings series may be slim (the first is only 39 pages), but this is a sophisticated tale of a cat family with wings.
In recent years, child and young adult adaptations of popular nonfiction titles for adults have been more common. Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story is an adaptation of the excellent Dewey: The Small-Town Cat Who Touched the World.
Deborah Underwood's series about an imposter cat is hilarious and highly inventive. Here Comes the Easter Cat is the original (you don't have to read them in order, but the final page in this one gives you a clue about the next title), which introduces us to Cat, who is quite jealous of the attention and fame given to the Easter Bunny, but not of the intense work it is to be the Easter Bunny. Here Comes Santa Cat and Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat are equally funny; 2016 will bring us one just in time for Valentine's Day.
Kitten's First Full Moon (2005 Caldecott Medal) features a tiny kitten who thinks the full moon is a bowl of milk, and goes off in search of it. The text is simple, which gives the reader (and/or listener) ample time to pour over the black-and-white illustrations.
I've used Mama Cat Has Three Kittens so many times in story times that I nearly have it memorized; the expansive and bright illustrations are attractive to toddlers and the text is simple enough to use in Baby Steps story time; some toddlers and most preschoolers will catch on to the repetitive element involving one of the kittens.
Millions of Cats was published in 1928, but its lyrical and funny text make it appealing many generations later. If you want a sweet story that's not saccharine, get this one; the plot focuses on a man who wants to find the perfect cat for his wife, and eventually finds a very unlikely candidate.
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (the inspiration for the musical Cats) was not originally published as a children's collection of poetry (although Eliot wrote the poems for his godchildren), but the whimsical and comical poems about an eclectic collection of cats will appeal to young cat aficionados (and fans of the musical). This collection, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, was designed with children in mind.
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes started the Pete the Cat phenomenon, and although I'm cross about what's happened to the series, I can't leave Pete out in a tribute to cat books. I Love My White Shoes not only has a fun and adaptable rhythm that never fails to coax a story time audience into singing along, but also reinforces colors and the benefits of remaining chill.
Want nonfiction books about cat care? Look in the J 636.8 section.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library