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Mrs. Katz and Tush

Last updated Monday, July 6, 2009

Author: Patricia Polacco
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0553081225
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2009

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: A warm, lovingly told story about an intergenerational relationship. It is the beginning of a long friendship between Mrs. Katz, widowed, childless, and lonely, and her young African-American neighbor, Larnel, when he presents her with a scraggly kitten. On his daily visit to the elderly woman and her pet, they talk about Mrs. Katz's husband, her arrival in the United States from Poland, and the similar experiences of Jews and African-Americans. Larnel accompanies her to say kaddish at her husband's grave, and attends her Passover seder. When Tush has kittens, Mrs. Katz feels fulfilled, a bubee (grandmother) at last. The final illustration shows an adult Larnel with Mrs. Katz holding his baby, and the story ends with him and his family visiting the woman's grave. Mrs. Katz's dialogue reflects her Yiddish background without being obtrusive. The charcoal and watercolor illustrations are in Polacco's usual style, with large areas of white space emphasizing the characters rather than their surroundings. The character portrayals are vivid and lively, with a hint of humor. Polacco pays careful attention to detail, even to the age blemishes on Mrs. Katz's hands. A fine book for group or individual sharing.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever felt lonely? Did somebody try to cheer you up? What did they do?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why did Mrs.Katz name the cat Tush?
•  Do you ever think your pets are 'such a person'? Why do you think Mrs. Katz said that about Tush?
•  What's your favorite Jewish tradition we learned about today?
•  Have you ever lost a pet or something else important to you? Did you find it like the characters in the book found Tush?
•  What are the holidays and traditions you enjoy celebrating? Do you have friends that celebrate different things? Is it fun to learn about different traditions and holidays?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture of your favorite celebration or tradition.
•  Complete the Mrs.Katz and Tush word search.

*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!