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Castaway Cats    by Lisa Wheeler & Ponder Goembel order for
Castaway Cats
by Lisa Wheeler
Order:  USA  Can
Atheneum, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Castaway Cats, Lisa Wheeler gives us an engaging epic in verse, a kind of feline Robinson Crusoe - except there are fifteen of them (seven are kittens), as opposed to Crusoe plus Friday ... 'Water dripped from wilted whiskers. / Sea salt stung exotic eyes. / Fifteen felines felt quite fearful; / each had used up several lives.'

What do they do? They start to organize and pull together. They find food, watch for rescuers, try to build a boat, and squabble a lot - 'But the cats would not get moving. / No, they wouldn't even try. / And they wouldn't work together ... / so, the fur began to fly!' Finally, they realize they need to pull together, and as they do, grow fonder of the island and of each other. Can you see where this is going? I expect you've worked it out, but if not, read the book!

Aside from the fun in rhymes and the lesson in cooperation, Wheeler also plays with numbers in Castaway Cats, dividing the fifteen into differing number pairs in math sentences (as in, after one of many arguments, 'Fifteen cats lie on the shore - / Ten are bruised and five are sore.') And Ponder Goembel's amazing illustrations show a variety of cat species in all their colorful shipwrecked glory.

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