The Wish Cat by Ragnhild Scammell
Illustrated by Gaby Hansen
Ragnhild Scammell’s The Wish Cat with illustrations by Gaby Hansen begins with Holly sitting on the doorstep right in front of the cat flap. Holly’s house had a cat flap, but Holly did not have a cat. One night Holly saw a falling star and she made a wish. She wished for a kitten; a tiny cuddly kitten who could jump in and out of the cat flap.
Suddenly something landed on the windowsill CRASH. It was Tom. Tom was not a tiny cuddly kitten. He was the scruffiest, most raggedy cat Holly had ever seen.
Holly could not believe her eyes, but there he sat smiling a crooked smile.
Holly tried to make Tom understand he was not what she had wished for. She told him, she hid under her covers. Nothing worked, next morning there was Tom with a present for Holly. He brought a piece of smelly old fish, Holly put it in the garbage can and told Tom to go home.
Tom did not give up he sat on Holly’s swing, at lunchtime he sat on the windowsill and watched Holly eat. She gave him a piece of her sandwich. He followed Holly, he chased leaves and balanced on top of the fence.
That evening when Holly had to go into the house Tom lay down on the step by the cat flap. That night is snowed. It snowed all over Tom, Holly head him meowing and ran to open the cat flap.
Holly brought him a big plate of food and some warm milk, and, she dried him with a towel. That night as Holly and Tom sat on Holly’s bed Holly stroked his scruffy fur and they watched the stars.
Suddenly another star fell. Holly could not think of anything to wish for, she had everything she wanted and so did Tom.
The yearly Book Fair held in the library of our Osage County school is always a fun time for students and myself. We look over the book offering and find ones we think we will like. I think the year Tom’s crooked smile met out eyes each child in the class immediately shouted “Mrs Martin, here is a book you will love.” It is well known with staff and children at my school; Mrs Martin takes in homeless cats and Mrs Martin does love cats.
The Wish Cat has been one of the all-time favorites for Osage County First Grade. My resident book critics adore the story, the pictures and the outcome. I like the storyline, Gaby Hansen illustrations are kid friendly and fit the tale very well, and, vocabulary used is child centered and has nice flow. Tom is a cat we all love.
Osage County First grade students do believe there is magic in falling stars, they share a common bond of caring and liking critters and expect they will always have pets as children and on into their adult years. They understand the longing Holly has for a kitten, and they understand her sympathy for Tom when he is covered in snow.
In the classroom the narrative provides lots of opportunity for discussion as the whole class becomes involved in talking, answering questions and asking some too; why do you think Tom came to Holly’s house, why does the door have a cat flap if no cat, what would you do if a cat like Tom came to your house and the like.
I like the book and have used it in my classroom for several years. Thought-provoking read, happy to recommend as a read to for the 3 -4 age group, read with emergent readers, read to self, siblings and family strong primary readers. The Wish Cat is a good addition for the public and school library, child’s bedroom book shelf, classroom library and as a gift for children in the kindergarten – primary grades.