A charming animal story with a strong 'keep on trying' message. Highly recommended to 5 - 7 year olds.
There are so many aspects to this book that I enjoyed. But, best of all, is the fact it's very, very different! It's not just a sweet story for young children, it's also got a strong 'keep on trying' message and - it's a dance book! The author, working with the illustrator, has designed a book in which dance movements and stretching is cleverly integrated into the telling of the story. And that is very much its strength.
Now, to the plot. The story follows a very sweet cat that has a crooked tail. At first, it's all very embarrassing for her and she sort of keeps herself to herself. But, as she grows up, and with a little help from her cat pals, she's soon trying to do all the fun things the other cats do; climbing and jumping, twisting and turning - you, know, cat stuff! And, to her surprise and delight, she discovers she's just as good and just as bad as the other cats.
I must say, this is a charming story helped along by the wonderful artwork of the illustrator, Olha Tkachenko. In terms of the writing style and vocabulary, I suspect it would work well with the target readership of 5 to 7 year olds. Parents will also find it delightful, particularly the story's message of never giving up and being supportive of others. And, of course, if you happen to be interested in dance or want to find new ways of stretching and working out, this book is perfect.
With the animal story spot on, and superbly supported by the colorful drawings, I'm happy to recommend this to any parent looking for a fun way of introducing dance to a child. I suspect a school library would also love to have it on the bookshelf.
—A Wishing Shelf
Very good story written in a unique format that teaches children try new things, be confident and practice, practice, practice.
Cat with a Crooked Tail is a very good story which teaches children to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, be confident in themselves and understand that practice makes perfect.
The book is written by a ballerina and has a unique format – it not only tells you a story, but each page includes descriptions of movements which express the story. You can follow these movements as you read.
The story is a about a farm cat named Merida who has a crooked tail. She was a kind and caring cat who was afraid to do the things the other cats did. She was afraid because of her crooked tail.
On sunny days, the other cats would sit on a ladder and enjoy the sun while Merida would sit below. She thought her crooked tail would not allow her to maintain her balance.
On rainy days, the other cats would use the barn as an obstacle course. They would climb, jump, crawl, balance, and squeeze through tight spots. Merida would lay in the corner and watch them.
Merida's best friend Ziggy encouraged Merida to join the obstacle course and helped her train. When she was ready, Merida joined the other cats in the obstacle course. The first time, she fell during the last part of the course. When she saw the other cats did not laugh and were concerned about her, Merida felt better and continued to run through the obstacle course multiple times.
Merida later met a cat with no tail who was AMAZING on the obstacle course. Merida was surprised and asked the cat how he was so good. The cat told her “practice.”
I enjoyed the story. It is well-written and teaches children important lessons. However, I would have preferred if the section with the various movements were at the end of the book as opposed to the bottom of each page. I believe that by doing so, the flow of the story would be better. The illustrations were life-like and cute.
—Reedsy (Kay B)
Miss Merida Brown lives on a farm with several other cats. She is friendly with all of her feline companions, but Merida is timid when it comes to climbing and participating in the obstacle courses everyone else loves so much. With a crooked tail and small stature, she is so afraid of falling that she has never really given climbing a try. When her friend Ziggy offers to teach Merida how to climb, though, she bravely accepts, learning that her only limits were the ones she placed upon herself.
This lovely story fits right in with the others in the Creative Movement series by Once Upon a Dance. True to form, this book begins with a message from Ballerina Konora and incorporates illustrations, text, and movement suggestions on each page. The design differs slightly in this addition, specifically in the presentation of the text explaining the movement. Placed in a separate box, it is tipped at an angle and reflects the crookedness of Merida’s tail.
Though each book in this series utilizes movements that enhance readers’ gross motor skills, this one takes it a step further and introduces a game. Just as Merida goes through an obstacle course in the barn, so too can readers create their own obstacle courses in their homes. Practicing balance, vertical levels, and teamwork, young readers will build their own strength and tenacity while having fun. Perseverance is a major theme in this story, and Merida’s model of picking herself back up and trying again is one that readers will be compelled to emulate.
Colored pencil-style illustrations delightfully encapsulate the textures and sights inherent to farm life. Deep reds adorn the farmhouse itself, the grass is filled with myriad greens and yellows, and each of the cats is a different, unique combination of hues. Realistic in its approach, cat lovers will recognize the many antics depicted in the appearance of these felines. At the end of the book, readers are introduced to many of Konora’s real-life kitties, of whom Miss Merida Brown is an amalgam. This inclusion forms an additional layer of connection between readers and Ballerina Konora.
Not only is this an excellent addition to the Creative Movement series, but this book engages readers in movements that are not always directly linked to dance, thereby increasing the accessibility of these stories. This is an excellent addition to movement curricula for preschool and elementary school-aged children.
—Mary Lanni, Independent/Librarian Reviewer