Quick review: Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats

Old Robert and the Sea Silly Cats

How’s this for a hook: What happens when the moon wanes?

After a friend asked me that question while recommending Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats, of course I had to read it.

Old Robert is the rhythmical story of a lonely sailor who will not sail at night; it’s too dark. But as cats with unusual talents visit his boat one by one, the moon keeps waxing brighter and brighter until the night feels right…

The gist is similar to Mrs. McTats and Her Houseful of Cats, but with a sea flavor and a tongue twist or two. The solitary sailor counts his things: “Clean socks/a clock/my ship in the slip at the dock.” So accustomed is he that when Robert hears the cats, he first mistakes them for seafaring sounds. (Did you know a singing cat sounds like a foghorn?) Gradually, singing cat after dancing cat enters his boat, each with a wee little hammock, until there can’t possibly be room for one more…can there?

The illustrations are clean and bright and uncluttered. Robert’s mouth, though it’s only a line, is quite expressive. He looks vaguely stern until the cats appear, then you see the simple black line of his smile. And I love the face of the singing black cat with the ukulele. He sings the way you imagine a cat would sing, head thrown back and fangs bared. I could hear him yowling.

As for what happens when the moon wanes… I couldn’t tell you. Maybe the cats have something to do with the tide. What do you think?
{hat tip to R}

About Amy

Children's librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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3 Responses to Quick review: Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats

  1. Rebecca says:

    I love this book, and I love this post about this book.

    To me, this story is about the cyclical nature of love. As the new-found love arrives with the waxing moon, won’t it leave with the waning moon? (And then come back again…)

  2. Amy says:

    I hope it comes back….

  3. Rebecca says:

    That’s the nice thing about the full moon. It always does come back. (So does the new moon, BTW)

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