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Things were running very smoothly and most of the creatures were highly please with themselves. Lion was already famous. Even the little shrews and moles and spiders were pretty well known.
But among all those busy creatures there was one who seemed to be getting nowhere. It was Cat.
Cat was a real oddity. The others didn’t know what to make of him at all.
And so begins one of the most charming children’s stories for young readers. In the classic children’s book How The Whale Became (and other stories) the British author Ted Hughes writes about “when the world was brand new” and imagines how the animals came to be the animals we know and love today.
Just exactly how did they develop such diverse characteristics? This collection of 11 imaginative and slightly odd creation stories tells young readers how a small menagerie of animals came to be so very different. Featuring owl, whale, fox, polar bear, dog and cat (among others) young readers or listeners will enjoy the unusual way they acquired their characteristics. Published in 1963 these stories were originally intended as tales for Ted Hughes young children, but thankfully he shared them.
“How The Cat Came Became” is the 8th story in the book focusing on Cat and his relationship to the other animals. Not much liked, Hughes plays on the historical coolness often associated with cats, being so inscrutable, a mystery and were often feared. However, with much ingenuity and wisdom Cat manages to overcome, find his way and a cozy lap!
Aimed at children grades 2 – 5 this is a wonderful book for young readers, or as a read aloud. Unlike many children’s book the language is not juvenile – Hughes does not talk down to his audience – and he presents simple, yet complex ideas. Similar to the writing of Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carol and others of an earlier time this book is also suitable for adults who love animals as it is charming and a classic.
In 2013 How The Whale Became was transformed into an opera. Commissioned by the Royal Opera House London the words of Ted Hughes were transformed into words and action in a creative adaptation for stage.