Sharon Creech’s Hate that Cat is a super quick read, perfect if you have a book report due tomorrow and hadn’t started a book. Though Creech’s Walk Two Moons is among my favorite novels for children, Hate that Cat didn’t grab me.
Evidently, Hate that Cat is the second book in a series. The hero writes letters to his favorite teacher and shares all his thoughts about poetry, cats, dogs, and writing with the teacher. The book introduces young readers to poets like William Carlos Williams and Edgar Allen Poe. The most interesting facet of the book was that the narrator’s mother is deaf and he can sign ASL.
For a mature reader, there isn’t much in the theme that isn’t well worn ground. The book doesn’t delight readers of all ages, which is a hallmark of the best of children’s literature. The narrator seemed like a cookie cutter Creech hero, but one who shares little of his personality or background.
Last weekend I went to a friend’s family’s cabin and was introduced to the “Little Willy” poems, which I’d never heard. Evidently, they were first written in the late 19th century and published in the early 20th. They consist of little Willy doing some ghastly violent act and are followed with a ho hum response.
Into the cistern little Willie
Pushed his little sister Lily.
Father couldn’t find his daughter,
Now we sterilize our water.
Willie in his roguish way
Tipped Grandpa on the fire one day.
Mother said “My dear that’s cruel!
But of course it does save fuel.”
Little Willie from his mirror
Sucked the mercury all off,
Thinking, in his childish error,
It would cure his whooping-cough.
At the funeral, Willie’s mother
Smartly said to Mrs. Brown,
“T was a chilly day for William
When the mercury went down.”
“‘Ah, ah, ah!’ said Willie’s mother.
‘Oh, oh, oh!” said Mrs. Brown.
‘ ‘T was a chilly day for William
When the mercury went down.’”
Have you ever heard these? Do you know of any other old nonsense poems?
I found these in a digitized children’s book on the Library of Congress’ website.
Ah, sweet Lucinda, best of girls,
How quick to take advice.
Behold her with unpapered curls,
And frock so rich and nice!
Her haughty stare! Who would suppose
That dress would change her so
Oh, blessed influence of fine clothes,
How much to thee we owe!
The poems are written by Carolyn Wells, who was a rather prolific writer of children’s poetry and prose. These appeared in a collection called Children of Our Town, published in 1902. She was born in 1902, two years after Rose Selfridge.
Lucinda’s tastes are so depraved;
She likes to play and romp
With children poor and ill-behaved,
Who boast no style or pomp.
Their costumes are not quite correct,
They have no pretty tricks;
Lucinda! pray be more select,
In higher circles mix.
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.