Monday, March 3, 2014

The Cat or, How I Lost Eternity

Author:  Jutta Richter
Illustrator: Rotraut Susanne Berner
Published: 2006
Batchelder Honor Book

I don't understand this book.  I'm sure there is more to it.  It reminds me of books I had to read in college and analyze and I just made things up hoping that I would get it right.  I have no idea what this book is really about!  I've read it twice to myself and once aloud to my husband. I hate this book.

So, here is what is in the book.  There is a 3rd grade girl, Christine, who talks to a cat.  The cat is not nice.  He calls her stupid and makes fun of people who are different.  Christine is late to school on account of the cat.  He stops and talks to her each day.  They discuss eternity.  Not sure about the eternity bit.  Eternity ends for her one day.  I'm not sure why.

Eventually, Christine realizes that the cat is mean and she does not want to be like the cat.  The end.

I don't get it.  There has to be more to it!?!  This book just makes me feel dumb!

This is not a children's book.  I'm sure there is some deep philosophical meaning or understanding that is beyond my grasp.  If you get it, let me know.

***UPDATE***3/4/2014   4:25 PM
I can't get this book out of my head.  What am I missing?  I went back again and noticed something new after chatting with my husband.  It seems that in this book there are two types of people - cat people and dog people.  The cat people are the ones that are not nice.  We make a decision to not be nice.  Christine's principal is a cat person.  He sits behind a huge desk with "claw feet [that] seemed threatening...but then they remind [Christine] of something I know well:  cat's feet."  The principal also hisses at Christine, just as the cat had previously hissed at her. 

Christine knows a boy in her class.  Interestingly enough, his nickname is Pug.  Pug, like a dog.  Pug is short, shuffles when he walks, has cracked knuckles, and reminds the cat and Christine of a pug.  As Christine describes Pug, it's as if she has a good angel and a bad devil sitting on her shoulders.  Her mean half thinks he is disgusting and that his hands are like claws.  Her nice side tells her to stop being mean, he can't help it that he has problems. 

The story actually has a real dog in it too.  The cat says the dog is stupid because the dog, Alf, whines and
"licks the hand that beats him instead of biting it."  The cat then explains that Alf is a victim, but "he wasn't born a victim.  No one is born like that.  Every animal is free and strong in the beginning."

So, again, the good and bad.  I think that there is something to the description of Alf and how he wasn't born a victim, but I'm not sure what I need to understand about that yet.  I do know that I  do not agree with the cat.  We are not either cats or dogs, good or bad, victims or not.  There is gray. 

Check this book out from your library and then explain it to me, please.

No comments: