Scrawny Cat — Perfect Picture Book Friday

Although this book does not have a Thanksgiving theme, it certainly speaks to the topic of gratitude. Also, since I’ve recently been in Minnesota, it seemed appropriate to share a book by a Minnesota author.

Title: Scrawny Cat

Author: Phyllis Root

Illustrator: Alison Friend

Publisher: Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2011

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 3 to 8 years

Themes/topics: being lost and then found, loneliness, hope, friendship, stray cats, treating animals kindly

Opening Sentences: A scrawny cat crept down the street. He was lonely. He was little. He was lost.

Synopsis: Scrawny Cat once had a home and someone who cared for him. He once had a name. Now he’s lost, and hungry, and everyone he approaches calls him ‘Get Out of Here!’ A fierce dog chases him down to the dock where he hides in a dinghy. During a storm, the dinghy breaks loose from its mooring, and Scrawny Cat is taken out to sea. Things could not be much worse. Thankfully, when the storm ends, his boat has washed up on the shore of a small island, where a woman lives all alone. I’ll bet you can guess what happens…

Activities/Resources: If the child has a pet, this would be a good opportunity to reinforce how important it is to care for the pet and to tend to its needs. If the child does not have a pet, suggest they pretend with one of their stuffed animals and think of all the things they could do to make it happy, comfortable, and loved.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies has a kids’ page with puzzles, games and information.

Learning to Give suggests activities related to a visit to an animal shelter (scroll down to find “Hands On Activities”).

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.


Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”



  1. That’s a great book for appreciation of animals. I bet it applies to some people too. Great choice, Beth.

  2. Such a gentle heart warming tale this one sounds like. I like what you’ve suggested for children without pets in the house; I see my daughter treat her soft toys as tenderly as she would have cared for her pet! Thanks for the great pick, Beth!

  3. The cover would be enough to explain ’empathy’ to a child!

  4. aww, so sweet. I adore the cover picture and don’t know how that little face got refused so many times!

  5. I am not a cat person, but I will admit that the cover really caught my eye, It sounds like a lovely story of lost, found and loved. Kds will adore this book.

  6. What a great choice! I like the message about caring for animals!

  7. Empathy and caring? Enough said . . . looks like this one has a spot on my shelf. Thanks, Beth!

  8. I love cats, so I know I would love this book. Thanks for the great review!

  9. Well I love animals, cats especially. So this one has me eating out of its paw!

  10. Being lost and then found…I love this theme…and so will every child who hears the story! Thank you for a wonderful review, Beth…this looks like a beautiful book. 🙂

  11. It’s a sad thing that a book with a message of kindness to animals comes as such a surprise. Such a message should be inherent in all works.

    That being said, I’m glad this book was written; Boyfriend and I see strays by the beach, we read lost and found signs – there is a world of lost, frightened animals hoping for our understanding and kindness. This is a very important book!

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