20. The Hotel Cat


020) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished February 28

Reading this book may be the best clue to my second-grade psyche I will ever get.

Second grade. Mrs. Keech's class at A. J. Winter's Elementary School. I really liked Mrs. Keech but from what my parents say she didn't like me. I would do things like finish tests early and get all the answers right which really annoyed her (or so I hear and the details I remember myself back this up).

In her classroom was a shelf from which we could take books to read. I had two favorites that I read over and over again. The first, a paperback picture book about dinosaurs. The second, Hotel Cat. I loved these books. And when, at the end of the year, Mrs. Keech announced her retirement and that she was going to give us, her last class of students, her books, I was sure I would get one or both of these books that surely she knew I loved. How often had I read them!

She didn't give me anything. Some people got more than one some got none and some of the books stayed on the shelf. If I remember correctly, one of my faves was given away and one was left behind, but I don't remember which was which.

But why was The Hotel Cat such a big deal to me?

Here's the story: A cat is taken in by a hotel caretaker. To prove his worth, he moves beyond killing mice and rats and starts patrolling the halls. At first he threatens visiting cats should they leave their room, but slowly he learns to be welcoming and finally even gets friends and finally is even inducted, to his surprise and gratification, into the exclusive Cat Club.

Finishing the book tonight I teared up a bit at that final meeting where Tom finally has friends and finally belongs.

Was I lonely in second grade? I don't think so. Was I just feeling a normal desire to belong? Was it a desire to be elite? A desire for a fancy club with fancy friends? Was it the poet cat? The authoritarian President? The connection to a book I had at home?

I don't know. But I was amazed how into it my boys were. It ended up taking us a while to finish as trips and suchlike got in the way, but they dug it. The loved getting out The Fire Cat and comparing the pictures. They loved Tom's authority and his making friends.

Lady Steed on the other hand is utterly mystified. She doesn't get the appeal at all.

Tangentially, the New York Review Children's Collection copy is very nice and they're adding more good books all the time. I do find them a tad overpriced though.

for another of my childhood favorites, see this from earlier this year

almost two months


Previously in 2011 . . . . :

019) Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, finished February 21
018) Redcoat by Kohl Glass (MS POLICY), finished February 18

017) Best American Comics 2010 edited by Neil Gaiman, finished February 12
016) Little Bee by Chris Cleave, finished February 10
015) Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, finished February 2
014) Cursed Pirate Girl: The Collected Edition Vol. I by Jeremy Bastian, finished January 31

013) Sweet Tooth: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
012) Sweet Tooth: Out of the Woods by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
011) Essex County: The Country Nurse by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
010) Essex County: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire, finished January 29
009) Essex County: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire, finished January 29

008) Magdalene by Morah Jovan, finished January 27

007) Knightfall Part Two: Who Rules the Night by a slew of DC folk, finished January 23
006) Bayou by Jeremy Love, finished January 17

005) Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, finished January 10
004) The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, finished January 6
003) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished January 5
002) Batman - Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham by John Wagner and Alan Grant and Simon Bisley, with lettering by the famous Todd Klein; finished January 4
001) Batman: Venom by Dennis O'Neil et al, finished January 2


  1. A coworker just bought a copy of Firehouse Cat for her adult son because it was his favorite book from a very young age :)

  2. Fire cat, I keep putting house in the title and she keeps correcting me, I can't believe I did it again, lol

  3. .

    I had that one as a kid and now we have a copy for my kids as well. Plus this one. Maybe we should collect them all.....