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Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats



Last updated Thursday, February 27, 2014

Author: T. S. Eliot
Illustrator: Edward Gorey
Date of Publication: 1982
ISBN: 0151686564
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2014

Synopsis: "The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn’t just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter When I tell you, a cat must have three different names." Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is a collection of poems about the secret lives of cats.

Note to readers:
•  The musical "Cats" is based on this book of poetry.
•  Read into/closing poems and one in between
•  Choose a few poems to read (there's less time this month because of our guest musicians)

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Why do you think the title is "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"?
•  Do you like poetry? Do you listen for rhymes when you hear poetry?
•  These cats are from England--what do you know about British culture?

Vocabulary:
•  cherish (1) -to feel love for.
•  rapt (2) - deeply interested and focused.
•  ineffable (2) - something that can't be described in words.
•  effable (2) - something that can be described in words.
•  caterwaul (17) - long wailing cries.
•  gavotte (17) - an old french dance.
•  terpsichorean (18) - a dancer or pertaining to dance.
•  various (53) different kinds of things.
•  seldom (53)- not often.
•  gambol (54)- to skip about, to frolic.
•  guffaw (54)- to laugh loudly.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What is unique about cats?
•  What do humans have in common with the cats in this story?
•  Do you think that cats (and animals) have secret lives?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a dancing cat using this template (http://www.craftscope.com/craft-dancing-cat/).(see sample)
•  Edward Gorey cat illustrations

Special activities:
•  Write poems about your favorite cats or animals.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!