“Busy Kitties” by John Schindel & Sean Franzen (2004)

Hmmm.

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I…see.

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I will address some of the problems I had with this book shortly, but first I want to assure you that there IS something charming about it. The pictures are, for the most part, lovely and they generally fit the book’s rhyme-scheme-centered flow. Even the rhyming is rather pretty. There’s a cuteness, a sweetness, a simplicity to this book which even I can neither ignore nor deny.

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But now, the problems.

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First, I resent the implication that we cats are slothful or indolent creatures. The title is clearly intended to be ironic, as the activities of the felines pictured within are menial at best.

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But, Mr. Schindel and Mr. Franzen, we kitties ARE busy. We lead busy lives. We keep your homes free of vermin; we keep your canines from rising up against you by reminding them of their place in existence; we remind you of YOUR places in existence; we warm your laps and soothe you with our purrings; we grant you serotonin releases by permitting you to pet us; we defend you from the menacing red eye of the sinister machine-god; we protect your children from harm when YOU can’t be bothered to do so…

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Even in our down-time, we are busy: as I alluded to in my review of Dream-of-Jade: The Emperor’s Cat, we felines spend a good deal of time meditating on the weightiest of philosophical, ethical and spiritual matters.

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“μία γὰρ χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ, οὐδὲ μία ἡμέρα: οὕτω δὲ οὐδὲ μακάριον καὶ εὐδαίμονα…”

And all of that? That is only what we do when you see us! When you do not see us – when you are asleep or not paying attention to us – we are engaged in endeavours the seriousness of which you cannot even comprehend!

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This is a book for little children, I understand that. That is the section of the bookstore in which my human discovered it; there is some toilet humor in the middle of the text; the language is simple (as are the rhymes); and both the structure and the physical composition of the book is exactly the sort of thing one might hand to a child. That ameliorates some of the issues this book had, true.

We cats appreciate your young, even when you do not.

We cats appreciate your young, even when you do not.

But still… I can’t help but feel like you humans are presenting to your offspring a false and insulting view of feline nature. Yes we are marvelous, whimsical, soft-furred creatures. But there is more to us than that and your children need to learn that truth before it is too late…

Too late for them.

Too late for you.

Not for us.

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Never for us.

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