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If Not for the Cat
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If Not for the Cat

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  248 ratings  ·  73 reviews
A creature whispers:

If not for the cat,
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.

Who is this creature?
What does it like to eat?
Can you solve the riddle?

Seventeen haiku composed by master poet Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by renowned artist Ted Rand ask you to think about seventeen favorite residents of the animal kingdom in a new way. On these glorious and colorful p
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 21st 2004 by Greenwillow Books
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205th out of 574 books — 272 voters
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Community Reviews

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Once again, Jack Prelutsky uses his poetic talents to engage young readers. In IF NOT FOR THE CAT, Prelutsky writes 17 haiku poems that are in a riddle format. The reader can use the illustrations and words to guess what animal the haiku is about. I am struck by the high-level of vocabulary in this book. I love the fact that instead of using simple everyday language, Prelutsky challenges the young audience to gain an understanding of words such as scarcity, nasturtium, undulate and gelatinously. ...more
Picture Book-This book caught me by surprise. At first, knowing it was written by Jack Prelutsky, I thought I'd love the book because he usually writes really funny poetry. However, after reading the first page, I thought this was not the typical Prelutsky piece I knew. The title caught my attention but then it was referred to on the first page, so I really wasn't too curious after that. However, something about it kept me reading. Perhaps, it was because I don't like starting something and not ...more
Sep 15, 2007 Joanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Ted Rand's gorgeous illustrations illuminate the delicate haiku created by Jack Prelutsky. My favorite:

Boneless, translucent,
We undulate, undulate,

No, no, my favorite:

I am slow I am.
Slowest of the slow I am.
In my tree I am.

Or, no:

Raucously we caw.
Your straw men do not fool us.
We burgle your corn.

Okay, so I love them all; these and all the others. This is a marvelous introduction to haiku for youngsters, and a treat for the adults who read them aloud and feast our eyes on the illust
Clever as always - Jack Prelutsky. This picture book is a collection of haikus. Each one of the seventeen haikus describes an animal. The description is written as a haiku but is also a riddle. Children will delight at the detailed illustrations in vibrant colors. Each page is another challenge as children try to figure out the riddle and the animal described. Some of the vocabulary is difficult, which makes the descriptions even more challenging. Children may need a dictionary to address some o ...more
I love Jack Prelutsky's work and this is another great example of why he's considered the children's poet laureate. Regardless of whether my son likes this one or not (I am going to try and quiz him on what each haiku is describing), I'm giving it a five star.

He seemed to enjoy it, although not as much as me, of course. Several of the animals in the front were harder for him to recognize, but there were enough that he knew and felt confident about identifying when I asked him what they were. So,
Dec 05, 2011 Dolly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful collection of poems about various animals. The poems are written so that the reader can then guess which animal is being described, which made for a lot of fun for us as we read this book aloud. We had family visiting and so our girls and their two cousins took turns reading each poem and we'd all say what animal the poem described. The haikus are fun to read aloud and the kids were excited when they'd correctly guess the animal. We really enjoyed reading this book together a ...more
This is a wonderful little book of riddles, all written in haiku, with amazing illustrations that provide the answers to each riddle. My favorite reads:
"Raucously we caw.
Your straw men do not fool us.
We burgle your corn."
(The answer, of course is a crow.)

I would use this book to introduce the poetic form of the haiku. Riddles are a great way to get kids writing haiku. Students could make small flip books with their poetry on the top of the flap and their illustration (which provides the answ
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Lisa Rathbun
On every two page spread is a beautiful illustration of an animal with one haiku in large type. I would like to read these without showing children the pictures, allowing them to guess what animal is being described. Then I would read it again, showing them the picture. This is a fun, approachable introduction to haiku. I did think that while the subject matter and the format seemed appropriate for younger children, the vocabulary was very advanced: "gelatinously, undulate, gaudily, nasturtium, ...more
Alex Tierney
Feb 23, 2012 Alex Tierney added it
Shelves: eced-221
If Not For the Cat is about many animals in nature. All of the animals have a seperate poem that tells a little something about them. The poems are used to describe the picture and to see if you can figure out what the animal is before using the picture to help you.
There is no rhyming in the book and the poems are all very short. Most of them are only 3 lines and give of short message. The images match what is happening in the poem and the poem is used in order to help the reader figure out what
Samantha Duncan
1. Genre: Junior Book - Poetry

2. This is a book composed of 17 haiku by the author written in riddle format. These haiku cover different animals including a hummingbird, a skunk and a jellyfish. you are left to decide who is who, the answer is right in front of you.

3. (A) Area for comment: characterization/vocabulary
(B) The different characters used in this book make it very interesting and fun to read. Each character used in the haiku is different and each one is written in riddle format so yo
Citation: If Not For The Cat, by Jack Prelutsky. (Greenwillow Books, 2004). 40p. Poetry.

Summary: This book is a collection of seventeen poems written in haiku. Each poem presents a different animal and is accompanied by mixed-media illustrations.

Critique: The style of these poems is very successful. Johnson states in The Joy of Children’s Literature that “Poetry for children should convey the experiences and perceptions of the child in a way that is meaningful.” (p.232)Prelutsky meets that crite
Alison Flemming
If Not for the Cat by Jake Prelutsky paintings by Ted Rand (Greenwillow Books 2006). 40p. Poetry.

Summary: This is a book of Haiku poems. Each page has a different animal with beautiful pictures.

a. This book is good for teaching Haiku’s. It has beautiful pictures and an index that explains what each poem is about.

b. Each page had a poem on it describing an animal. It’s fun to guess which animal the poem is describing. The illustration makes it easy to determine which animal the poem i
Cynthia Housianitis
Picture Book Project

Category: Poetry

Source: Textbook (p. 237); Horn Book Fanfare List

If Not for the Cat, by Jack Prelutsky, is composed of seventeen haiku written in riddle format. Written from the perspective of various animals, Prelutsky captures the essence of each animal, making them easily identifiable from their descriptions. The reader must wonder and think which animal was in the haiku description.

Along with the written depictions, Prelutsky's words are paired with illustrations of vibr
Assignment: Picture Book Project
Category: Poetry
Recommending Source: p. 241 in textbook

Review: Jack Prelutsky keeps you guessing with this clever book of poetry. Seventeen haikus describe a different animal. Ted Rand gives us answers to each riddle with his beautifully illustrated animals.

With the dust jacket being an exact match to the hard cover, we see a gray tabby cat with its face only several inches from a mouse looking directing at us sitting on its hind legs. With a light to dark border
Erin Phillips
Picture Book Project
Category: Poetry
Source: Textbook

Based on the title, it appears as if the story will be a typical rhyming poetry story, however it surprises the reader in a delightful way with descriptive haikus of particular animals. The book of poems gives away subtle hints as to which animal is being described, and the beautiful illustrations amongst the page confirm the reader's guess. The illustrations correlate perfectly with the animal being described, but I almost wish they could be
Dorothy Carder
This book had beautiful illustrations, and the poems were haikus which also had a riddle to solve in them, along with help from the illustrations. The author also provided the answers to the riddles at the back of the book, which I thought was a great follow-through and foresight from him. The poems were short and sweet, which would be an excellent choice of a book to use in introducing haikus to a classroom.
“If not for the cat, And the scarcity of cheese, I could be content.” So begins Prelutsky’s beautifully crafted collection of 17 haiku written from the perspective of various animals. Through pacing, rhythm and word choice, Prelutsky succinctly captures the essence of each creature, making them easy to identify from their pictures and poems, despite never being named. Rand’s gorgeous, full-spread illustrations – a mix of ink brush drawings, traditional watercolors, chalk, spatter and printmaking ...more
This book is written in haiku. The specific rhythm lends itself to language acquisition. Because of the nature of haiku, syllables can be pointed out and counted. This is another way to celebrate the patterns in language. Critical thinking - each poem describes a different animal so the kids can guess what is being described.
Meg McGregor
I have always loved the HAIKU form of poetry and here Mr. Prelutsky gives the reader 17 haiku featuring familiar animals and birds that young readers will readily recognize.

My favorite is the one about the butterflies.

Wingless we went in,
But we emerged as fliers,
And oh, such colors!
Summary: Children’s haiku poetry about different animals around the world.
Potential Problems: None
Personal Response: It’s not my favorite collection of Haiku, I guess I like the more beautiful and mature versus of it than those for children.
I thought the haiku in this book was beautiful; however, I don't think that young kids (the target audience) will get them and quickly become bored with them. I just can't see this book keeping a young child's attention. A very serious book.
Poems...boring RIGHT? Not the way Jack Prelustsky does them. This books was very good. Try reading it without looking at the pictures and see if the person can guess what animal the Haiku is about!
Michele Farmer
Haiku's offer clever clues to naming seventeen of the world's creatures. Pen and ink, watercolor, chalk, and art done in other media make up the big, beautiful illustrations that span two pages. This would be an excellent vehicle for exposing children to haiku poetry, and a great inspiration piece to get them started writing on their own. The prose is perfectly lovely, but it was surprisingly difficult to guess some of the animals without the pictures! Because some of the words are big or diffic ...more
Despite the title, this is a collection of poems about many different, unrelated topics. Only the first one is about a mouse (and the presumed presence of a cat.)
Rose Goodwin
This is a great resource for teaching haiku poetry. It is also an interactive book because the poems can be read to the children and they can guess what the animal is.
This picture book is a great introduction to poetry, specifically haikus. Each haiku is complex, but the illustrations help the reader understand the intent of the poem. This is a thinking book for children!
Bridget R. Wilson
Prelutsky offers 17 poems, haiku to be specific, riddles if you will, to readers. Can you guess the creatures?

What I thought: Delightful! I never knew haiku had the possibility of being riddles, but Prelutsky showed me. These would be great to share with elementary school age children. Don't show the illustrations until they've guessed what creature. My favorite haiku are the elephant, the otter, the beaver, and the butterflies. The illustrations are gorgeous--so realistic and colorful. My favo
Chelsea Kimmey
Confusing at first because I thought it was a story only to find out it was a book of haikus. Could be used in a beginning poetry lesson
My favorite haiku (about jellyfish, of course):

Boneless, translucent,
We undulate, undulate,
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Jack Prelutsky is an American poet. He attended New York public schools, and later the High School of Music and Art and Hunter College. Prelutsky, who has also worked as a busboy, furniture mover, folk singer, and cab driver, claims that he hated poetry in grade school because of the way it was taught. He is the author of more than 30 poetry collections including Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your ...more
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