With a fresh new version on book store shelves around the country, “April’s Kittens” – childrens books that were first published more than fifty years ago – is finding a brand new generation of fans. When young April’s pet cat Sheba gives birth to three beautiful kittens she is ecstatic. That is until her father informs her that theirs is a one cat house. This presents April with a problem that she will debate for the remainder of the story – which of the now four cats does she give up and which one does she keep?
April’s kittens are each as unique as they can be which only serves to make the decision all the more difficult for the precocious lead character April. Which ones will go? The lovable Brenda or the tiger striped, strong willed Butch? Will be it Charcoal or perhaps even Sheba herself? For decades children have adored these picture books by someone who obviously adored cats. Kids will want to work out their own answers to the problem as well, which encourages creative thinking and problem solving.
It is obvious that Clare Turlay Newberry loved cats. The winner of two Caldecott Honors, for “April’s Kittens” and for the 1939 “Barkis”, nearly every book she wrote and illustrated had something to do with felines. As a child she knew by the age of six that she was to be an illustrator and would draw on anything that she could find around the house. Her own two childhood cats were models for two of the cats in this book.