The day Sara Ann brings home three little kittens is the happiest day in Katie the dog's whole entire life. She loves the kittens. She loves them so much, it makes her howl. AROOOOO! She always howls like that when she's happy.
The problem is that Katie's happy howls frighten the little kittens, who scatter in all directions, climbing up curtains and lampshades to get away from her. Sara Ann scolds Katie, telling her to stay away from them until they get used to her. Katie slinks off to her bed, feeling very, very sad because she didn't want to scare the kittens.
Katie tries not to scare them. She really does. When she peeks around the corner and sees Sara Ann playing with them, she wants to join in so badly. She tries to control herself. She tries and tries, gritting her teeth with the effort until she is nothing but a quivering lump of agitated, levitating dog. But it's no use. AROOOOOO! Happy howls escape her, she bounds into the room, and the kittens are frightened all over again. What is poor Katie to do?
This picture book arrived today in the delivery of new picture books at my library. I giggled and giggled as I read it, and soon everyone in the workroom was reading over my shoulder and laughing along with me. The illustrations are absolutely delightful. Katie's mournful, disappointed doggie face makes me want to reach into the book and gather her into my arms. And the kittens! Himmelman manages to capture that impossible cuteness of very young kittens just perfectly. Katie is so doglike in her behavior - all she wants is to see the kittens, play with them, smell them. Young children will be able to identify with her longing and disappointment as Katie's canine nature makes her do things she really doesn't mean to do. Learning to be patient and quiet isn't a challenge just for rambunctious dogs, after all.
I rarely review picture books these days, because I find it difficult enough to keep up with all the other books that I read. But I could not resist taking a moment to write about this one. It is a truly delightful picture book that is certain to appeal to dog and cat lovers of all ages.
Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman (Henry Holt and Company, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
We Love Children's Books: "Cartoony drawings with lots of white space put Katie and the kittens center stage and simple lines explode with expression and animation."
The Well-Read Child: "The simple, yet engaging storyline is perfect for beginning readers and kids with short attention spans."