Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr

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Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Mog the Forgetful Cat is one of those picture books you need to buy, not borrow. The text is perfect; accurate, rhythmic, humorous. The illustrations are alive. Mog is the cat with whom every child can identify. A must-have for all toddlers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 1992
Publisher: Picture Lions
ISBN: 0001004344

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Mog is a tabby cat with a white bib at the front and four white paws. She lives with the Thomas family; Mr, Mrs, Nicky and Debbie. Mog likes eating, sleeping in her favourite places, playing, chasing the birds and all those other feline pastimes. Mog particularly likes eggs for breakfast - they are her favourite things of all. I like to think Mog has eaten so many eggs that she's starting to look like one - her head, with its little ears, bright eyes, and snubby, bright pink cat nose, is a perfect egg shape. She's got a funny, bemused little face and a tail that puffs up when she's excited. Mog's not that bright though - she's Mog the forgetful cat after all. When Mog is chasing the birds, she forgets she can't fly and spends a lot of time falling out of trees. When Mog is washing, she often forgets that's what she's doing and gazes into the distance thinking of something else altogether, while one of her legs stays sticking in the air. But most of all Mog forgets her cat-flap. It's her own special door but she never seems to remember it's there. You see Mog is a young cat - her mind isn't on remembering things, her mind is on what's happening there and then.

The garden always made Mog very excited.
She smelled all the smells.
She chased the birds.
She climbed the trees.
She ran around and around with a big fluffed up tail.
And then she forgot the cat flap.
She forgot she had a cat flap.
She wanted to go back into the house but she couldn't remember how.

This is the beauty of Mog - she's just like a cat and at the same time she's just like a child. Mog's forgetting of the cat-flap in particular, though, is turning out to be a pain. She is forever leaping up at the window miaowing to be let in. She tramples all over the window box and ruins Mr Thomas' flower display, she frightens Mrs Thomas and makes her drop the dinner she's halfway through cooking. Mog's forgetting of many other things is turning out to be a pain too: she forgets that eggs are supposed to be a treat and eats Nicky's breakfast; she forgets she has a basket to sleep in and gets in the way of Mr Thomas watching TV. Eventually, she's chased out of the house by Mrs Thomas. Mog sits alone and miserable in the garden for a while. She's sulking, just like a child sulks. But soon, just like a child, she forgets about all that and thinks it must be time for supper. She'd better go in but, as usual, she forgets all about her cat flap. She sees a light in the kitchen and goes to the window to miaow to be let in. It's at this point that Mog saves the day, albeit unwittingly, as she does, albeit unwittingly, in most of the Mog stories. I'm not going to tell you what she does or why she saves the day or from what or whom she saves it. Mog is too funny to spoil, even for you grown-ups. I will tell you she gets a medal though, and an egg for breakfast.

Mog will near the end of her long stay on your bookshelf when your children get to six or so, because the short sentences and sing-song nursery rhyme rhythm of Kerr's text are perfect for the littler of little ones. They make them incredibly easy to read aloud, too. The smallest of children laugh at Mog: they identify with the way she lives life for the moment, oblivious to everything but the task in hand, and they love the way she always saves the day by mistake. Kerr not only wrote but illustrated the Mog books and she has a great knack of putting some of the action only into the illustrations and not into the text. When the Mog is the unwitting cause of yet another domestic mishap and up goes the Thomas cry of "Bother that cat!", it's often only in the picture that you see the accident. The text remains Mog's own. She doesn't realise what's going on AT ALL. So you can read "as Mog" but break off for a little while to talk about the spilled drink, the broken flowerpot or whatever. And all the time Mog remains in her own little Mog world, gloriously unaware and happily untouched by any criticism from her creator.

Yet the text and illustrations are tied together, in a way that makes this a real book, intended for the delight of its target audience. Sometimes the words curl around the pictures, beside, or along Mog's tail perhaps. Sometimes there are a lot of words on the page, and sometimes just one or two, complementing a double-page spread. Mog is no didactic, soulless illustration sitting above monotonous but educational text, "produced" but not "written" by an "expert" in child development. She's a character in a story told by a writer. There's a world of difference y'know. Mog is a star, she really is. I can't recommend her highly enough.

Someone should give that cat a medal, or an egg for breakfast.

Booklists.jpg Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr is in the Top Ten Timeless Picture Books To Treasure Forever.

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Cath said:

This review highlights what a good book this is without spoiling the story. My son used to love this book and we had the cassette too and he never tired of listening to it.