11 August 2011

The Literary Kitty Challenge

 Focus, time to focus back on Books for Walls Project! Summer has been busy with helping Save Troy Public Library, going to the beach, planting our garden, enjoying Lakeside Shakespeare and now a new addition to the family... a kitten.

We need to get back to Reading Books and Writing Stories fun and Weekly Challenges --but the KITTY-- we cannot get our minds off the kitty. And then it hit us! The Literary Kitty Challenge! Cats and books have long been connected, their presence in literature endless, so why not combine them into a challenge. We are still working on a name for The Cat...

We have a bit of a tradition, we name our pets after Shakespearean Characters --in the fine words of William Shakespeare himself from Romeo and Juliet:
"What's in a name?

That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet"

Why is a name so important? Especially for a cat? T. S. Elliot, a famous cat lover, explains in his poem The Naming of Cats:
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
This week your challenge is to think about books and cats and names and then share:

  • cat inspired literature, 

  • famous literary cats, 

  • cat loving authors,

  • poems about cats, 

  • stories about cats, and 

  • while your at it, feel free to suggest a name, or two for The Cat, the newest member of the Books for Walls Project Family! We'll let you know what we decide on!

  • Now please, comment away!


    1. My mind immediately pulls me back 30 years, when I was The Sisters' age:

      Ruth Chew books: What the Witch Left, The Witches Buttons and The Wednesday Witch --there were kitties galore in those books. In The Witches Buttons I am pretty sure one of the buttons was a magical mini cat that made me desperate for just such a button to rescue me from long school days... oh to have a secret kitty in my pocket!

      I am giddy that The Sisters have a kitty for their pocket --well she doesn't exactly fit, but you get the picture!

    2. Anonymous12:24 PM

      Stuart Little!!!!!!!!!!!

      The cat's name is Snowball and our kitty is much nicer...!

      Dictated by The Little Sister, typed by The Mom

    3. P.S. Thanks to The Poet for helping us find our way to T.S. Elliot and all his wonderful CAT poetry!

    4. the rita mae brown sneaky pie books!

      you could name the kitty spalding (cause he's grey!)

    5. Behemoth in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita is one of my favorite cats! Not only does he talk, but he also knows how to use the bus. BRILLIANT.

    6. That kitty is sooo adorable!!! I love the family pic you posted on fb too, what a great idea!
      Looking forward to meeting her soon.

    7. Sometimes you look at an animal (or even a person) and a name pops into your head (At least that happens to me.). I have a daughter who has a cat that grew from a kitten whose name is "Puck". That name has always been right! When I looked at the pictures of your kitty my mind started churning, but it was halted by your comment that you name your pets after Shakespearean characters. That's fine, but it conjures up an image of the character and that doesn't always work too well. I thought "Cleopatra," but your kitty's image had something else in mind. The wheels started churning again and out popped "Mehitabel"! "That's it!" I cried.
      "If that were my kitten-that-would-grow-into-a-cat,
      I would name her 'Mehitabel' and that would be that."
      And then I remembered "Archy and Mehitabel" by Don Marquis. And that sealed the deal, especially since Mehitabel claimed to have been Cleopatra in an earlier life.
      So, for me, Mehitabel it is. And perhaps one day a copy of "Archy and Mehitabel" will appear in your mailbox and you can read it aloud together.

    8. i loved reading, and seeing cats! how about jellicle cat?

    9. leifsdad9:07 PM

      One of my all time favorite books..."The Cat Who Walks Through Walls", by Robert Heinlein. The cat, named Pixel, is able to appear wherever the narrator/observer happens to be (like Schrödinger's cat). He even walks through a wall once, but that's only because he was too young to know that it's impossible...
      Heinlein loved to use cats in his stories, and mused often on how they would cope with (and excel in) space travel and colonization. He was known to be a huge cat lover. Here's some of my favorite Heinlein cat-quotes;
      ~"Never pick up a stray kitten, unless you've already made up your mind to be owned by it."
      ~"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
      ~"While the rest of the human race are descended from monkeys, redheads derive from cats."
      ~"How you behave toward cats here below will determine your status in heaven."
      ~"Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat."

    10. Kathy Daniels10:18 PM

      “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron is a best-selling non-fiction book about “Dewey Readmore Books”, a cat left in the library drop box. Dewey spent the rest of his life in residence at the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. A REAL BookforWalls kitty!

      If the BFW kitty were a male, I would think about a non- Shakespearean name “Dewey B. Decimal”. (“B” for books) Or perhaps “Dew E. Decimal” for a female. Ha!

      But I DO vote for the Shakespearean theme. By the way, the Spencer Library had a “Name the Kitty” contest too!

    11. Barbara12:45 PM

      The House of Thirty Cats by Mary Calhoun, Bathtime Boots! and Cat is Sleepy both by Satoshi Kitamura, Mr. Putter and Tabby Feed the Fish by Cynthia Rylant, Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat, and Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel.

    12. A BFWP friend shared PHOTOS of their Literary Kitty! So we are going to post them Monday!

      Do you have a kitty that loves books? Send us a shot and we'll share it!!

      Send it to info@booksforwallsproject.org

      Happy Weekend!!

    13. Ernest Hemingway is of course famous for his polydactyl cats which he allowed to roam around his key west house. the house after legal threats of closure is a museum and permanent home to hemingway's cats' descendants. a book about him and his cats is of course out there. love libraries & cats go to ironfrog.com which has the library cat map, plan to travel one day with it as my guide.
      true story cat writers I love are Doreen tovey, Derek tangye, deric longden, Cleveland armory & Peter gethers. cat who dun it writers have hyphenated surnames, the others are just cashing in on a popular niche genre. best are lilian Jackson Braun (the original & unconfirmed as dead but latest book cancelled), carole Nelson Douglas, Rita Mae brown & Shirley Rousseau murphy.
      other favourite true stories are blackie, Cleo, nine emotional lives of cats & the cats kingdom. so many more to mention, I'll be back!!!!! =^..^=