I am a great cat-lover and miss having a feline companion about the place so I really enjoy a story that reminds me what fantastic creatures they are.
Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat by Katie Harnett is just such a book!
'Cat' has a very busy life, moving from house to house on Blossom Street. At each house he is known by a different name and he shares the lives and interests of those who live there. However, at number eleven, life is not very busy at all and Mrs Murray, who lives there, is lonely. When Cat shows up on her doorstep, this changes and soon the whole of Blossom Street find their way to her door.
The story reminds us of the importance of human contact and would be an excellent way of introducing discussions around this with children. Why is Mrs Murray lonely? Why is she on her own? How could she be living at Number 11 with no one in the street noticing? Community responsibilities and values could also be discussed. Blossom Street is home to a diverse range of people of all ages and with many interests, all depicted with humour and character, celebrating how different, and yet similar, people are.
There are many other possibilities for working from this story. The illustrations are seemingly simple, but very effective. Children would enjoy using Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat as a model for their own drawings and then develop their own cat characters. The Blossom Street community would also serve as an excellent model for developing a range of varied and interesting characters for a story in an innovated setting. Perhaps the characters might live in different flats in a tower block, or barges on a canal.. The story lends itself to role play activities, drama and dressing-up!
It would be great fun to create a board game with Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat as counters moving round Blossom Street. This could be made to explore all sorts of literacy or numeracy concepts, to develop the children's vocabulary etc - or simply for a bit of fun!
The layout of the latter pages which use speech bubbles could be the starting point for work on punctuating speech and the children developing cartoon style pieces of their own. There are many ways which writing could come from sharing this story too- both informally and formally. Letters, instructions for how to look after a pet or how to get from one house to another, persuasive writing, story writing, descriptive writing, poetry (great shape poems!)...
Personally, I think Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat would make a fantastic little soft toy. He is a simple enough shape to be cut from felt and simply sewn- and how fab would it be to have your own toy based on his design?!
The Sharpies might have to come out now... the ideas offered by this story are too many and too tempting! Share it with a child (or adult!) near you and see how the ideas follow!
Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat by Katie Harnett
Flying Eye Books ISBN: 978-1909263376