kristen tracy

Cat's Very Good Day by Kristen Tracy illustrated by David Small


Cat's Very Good Day

A hilarious picture book about one mischievous cat's action-packed day - from an award-winning poet, with illustrations by a Caldecott Medalist.

It's a busy day for Cat, who is living his best life and managing to cause plenty of trouble along the way! After all, he's a mirror attacker and a morning-tea whacker. A potted-plant disaster and an acrobat master. A vacuum avoider and a sofa destroyer.

But when thunder and lightning strike, it turns out he's a dark-storm worrier and a back-closet scurrier. A curled-up loner and a scaredy-cat groaner. Once the storm passes, though, is it possible Cat just might be a moonlight cuddler and all-night snuggler at heart?

Kristen Tracy's ingenious verse and David Small's masterfully expressive and uproariously funny artwork capture all the charm and personality of these irresistible fur babies - hairballs and all. Here's the perfect gift for feline lovers of all ages!


The only explanation anyone needs for why people love cats or hate them.

With whimsical wordplay, Tracy and Small chronicle a day in the life of a feline. Most of the sentences in this story are sentence fragments. Nouns are turned into adjectives, and verbs are turned into nouns. A two-page sequence describes the cat in lines that nearly rhyme: "Sock-drawer slinker. / Keyboard tinkerer." The cat is often seen committing acts of destruction, like flinging a teacup across the room. But Small's drawings make the animal impossible to dislike. Its eyes never once have the same expression. Sometimes the cat catches its own image in the mirror, with a look of alarm. Sometimes the pupil creeps to the very edge of the eye, as though the cat is planning something devious and joyful. From time to time, the story is interrupted by a sort of refrain as the narrator reflects on what kind of day the cat is having. Just after the cat shreds a sofa, for example, the text reads, "What a happy day." The line is both ironic and true, and it's accompanied by a picture of one of the owners throwing the cat out of the house. The cat's family presents as Asian. A teacher might have difficulty explaining the parts of speech on a particular page, but the book is easy to sum up: This is a poem.

Publishers Weekly:

As a lightly anthropomorphized orange tabby moves through the day in this picture book, it takes on a variety of rhyming identities - many of them reflecting an inimitable sense of feline privilege and mischief. After stretching and yawning in the morning sun, the kitty heads to the piano, and with a self-satisfied, sly grin, strolls across the keys: "Sunrise lounger / Piano-key pounder," writes Tracy (I Am Picky). The cat's young owner, who reads as East Asian, heads off to the bus, but the cat is just getting started. It flings socks from a high drawer and taps out nonsense at the family's computer ("Sock-drawer slinker / keyboard tinkerer"). There's a scolding or two for especially egregious behavior (digging in the houseplants, clawing the sofa), but the rhymes' occasional refrains - "What a happy day," "What a busy day" - remain as blithe as the feline protagonist, whose energy and appetite for chaos finally wind down when it assumes the role of "Moonlight cuddler. / All-night snuggler." Digital images by Small (Long Road to the Circus), which have the look of gently washed on-the-scene ink sketches, pay only nominal attention to the book's human characters; it's clear from the level of detailing that the focus is a pet whose considerable charisma is rooted in its belief that it belongs anywhere.


As Tracy's (I Am Picky, 2022) terse but sonorous mix of rhymes and partial rhymes take a housecat from "Sunrise lounger / Piano-key pounder" to "Moonlight cuddler / All-night snuggler," Caldecott medalist Small depicts the many (and often literal) ins and outs of a restless orange tabby whose predilection for domestic chaos ("Mirror attacker / Morning-tea whacker") leads to eviction by outraged grownups but doesn't prevent a final cozy bedtime snooze in a sleeping child's arms. Each page sets one cat antic beneath a pithy word pairing. While the day goes from "lovely" to "wild" to "busy" to suddenly "stressful" as lightning flashes outside before landing at last at "very good," slight changes in the furry troublemakers facial expression - signaling feline concentration, startlement, innocence, pleasure, panic, drowsiness, and content - will effectively key similar responses in empathic viewers. A very good book and effective read-aloud about a pretty bad, but still loveable, kitty.

Growing Book by Book

The illustrations by David Small are so enjoyable...This is a fun one to snuggle up with.

YA and Kids Book Central

[V]ery realistic... Cat owners will love that the sorts of things their own cats do are shown on the page. Small's illustrations are always marvelous... I can see this cat prowling around the neighborhood and stalking chipmunks right along with Schacher's Stretchy McHandsome.

Kristen Tracy delves into the feline mind with sensitivity, acceptance and humor... The results, abetted by David Small's wonderfully evocative illustrations, are delightful... [S]o much fun.

Vivacious verse...and frolicking art reveal that every day is an action-packed and adventurous one for this very good cat!

The beautiful illustrations and hilarious rhyming text perfectly capture a day in the life of a busy cat!

Cat's Very Good Day was released in hardcover on April 4th, 2023.

ISBN-13: 978-1984815200

Recommended for kids.

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