Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster (January 2011); ISBN 9781442406193; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library
"Life wasn't easy for a square cat. Mouse holes were impossible. And when Eula tipped over, it was hard to get back up."
Content cats purr. A square cat named Eula is not content with her shape and she's certainly not purring. Eula's unusual square shape presents many challenges like having to figure out a way to get back up when she tips over. She'd much rather be a round cat like her friends. Eula's friends, Maude and Patsy, try to help her feel round by giving her a make-over with hoop earrings and a roundish beehive hat. She ends up looking rather ridiculous, and she still suffers from tipping problems. Finally, her friends figure out that they can help Eula regain her purr by showing her the positive aspects of her square shape.
Of course one expects silliness in a book about a square cat. There is plenty of silliness in the book, from Eula's beehive hat to her donut eating binge. But, there's also a little deeper message, too -- a message about embracing your differences and being a true friend. Eula's friends go to great lengths to help her feel comfortable with her square shape. They even wear boxes because that's what good friends do.
While the message in Square Cat is great, my kids like this book because of the unique main character. Eula certainly stands out from the crowd and grabs a child's attention. The four letter name "Eula" wonderfully fits the four-sided feline character. Plus, like Mo Willem's Cat the Cat, the simple, square-shaped Eula is easy for a child to draw. The book is a perfect choice for beginning readers. In fact, it is just about the right level of difficulty for my graduating kindergartner (though she does have some difficulty with Eula's name). The ending isn't as strong as I had hoped, but Eula still won over our cat-lover hearts.
(A message for Eula - Next time you're feeling a little upset about your shape, look up Splat the Cat. We're pretty sure he might be your relative. He carries the square gene, too.)
Eula the Square Cat - Blog
In the illustrations, Eula looks flat as a pancake. This portrayal works in the illustration world, but we couldn't help but wonder what Eula would look like in real life...in 3D. For the story + art project today, my kids made their own 3D square cats (a.k.a. cube cats).
Inspired by the RoseArt Color Blanks, I decided to make a homemade version of 3D blank art. I wrapped a couple of alphabet blocks in white printer paper so the kids could start with a blank cube. They used markers to color the paper and designed their own square cats. After they finished coloring, they added google eyes, paper ears and feet and a square-spiral pipe cleaner tail.
This is a great play art activity. When the kids finished creating their square cats, they spent some time playing with their creations. They even stacked their square cats, just like in the book. If they decide they want to change the look of one of their cats, we can easily take off wrapping, recycle the paper and start all over with a clean slate.
A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Show off your ideas at ABC & 123 Show and Tell. Wrote a post about play? Join the It's Playtime party! Find more great book tie-ins at JDaniel4's Mom Read, Explore, Learn link-up.
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