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Esau the Paw was a very cool cat. No cat was fluffier, be sure of that...
But what happens when long-haired cats' coats get too matted to brush? Yep, they get clipped, much to Esau's embarrassment - and disgust!
The other day while we were at the Scholastic Book fair at school, my daughter spotted this book hiding on one of the shelves. All she could see was Esau the Paw hanging off the "E" on the cover. I could see Chris Gurney's name on the cover as well, so we pulled it out from behind everything. The cover isn't terribly bright, but it stood out on the shelf with it's pale yellow and the friendly looking cat.
My daughter is not really into cats, but she still insisted that Esau couldn't be left behind. So we went and bought the book. I figured that it would be a good all-rounder with Miss 3 as well. When we got it home after school, I shared the book with Miss 3 first. We sat on the bed upstairs and cuddled as we read it. She loved the pictures and pointing to the "cat" and the "meow". She was sad for Esau, and meowed sympathetically at him. She seemed to really like the book.
I read the book next to both her and her sister. My eldest, who picked the book, enjoyed it very much. She liked looking at all the illustrations, especially at the vet. She also felt very sorry for poor Esau. The story reads well, and I liked the prose. There is lots of great words in it, which I think does a brilliant job of helping us stretch our children's vocabulary. Some of the words were quite new to Miss 8 and she asked me to stop and tell me some other words that mean the same thing. So she was learning. Plus every time I read it again, she would remind me of the meaning of the words she didn't know before.
Tonight, reading it again after a week or so, Miss 8 said to me, "it was a great idea of mine wasn't it, to get this one". I had to agree. We wondered where the idea for the book had come from, and so we read Chris Gurney's blog and it turns out that she has a cat called Chevy who is fluffy too. We got to see Chevy in his fluffy and shaved states. This really made the story come to life on the next reading again, because it is a partially true story.
Esau the paw has become an instant hit with me and with all the kids I have shared it with! In fact I think in one day I read it about 20 times because I was constantly being asked to read it again. Chris Gurney has done an awesome job with the book and it captures the imagination. I loved all the rhyming words as did the kids at work and the older ones quicker picked up and after reading the book several time they were beginning to guess what word was coming at the end of the next sentence.
The story promoted a lot of conversation about looking after ourselves and keeping ourselves clean and tidy. There was also lots of conversation about our animals at home, animals having baths and trims. I really like when books teach a lesson in a fun way and promote children to think about these things. One child decided maybe we shouldn't jump in puddles any more because we would get all messy just like Esau. The no puddle jumping lasted until we went outside again!
John Bennett has done a wonderful job on the illustrations, the pictures paint the story perfectly. Each page has so many little details as well which the children loved spotting. There were a lot of giggles when Esau was on the toilet and every time we read the book they start getting excited when they know the page is coming up again.
Esau the Paw is a delightful book that any child would love the story, humour and pictures make it an easy read and one you don't mind reading over and over again.
When I looked at the list of books available for review Esau the Paw appealed to me immediately. I loved the clever pun in the title and it wasn't lost on my daughters (4 and 5.5 years) either. Miss 4 is an animal so a book with a playful cat on the cover really appealed to her. She was begging for me to read it the moment she saw it.
Both my girls listened intently to me reading it the first time but their reaction was not one I expected. Miss 5.5 was very quiet and had a worried expression while Miss 4 was crying. She was in tears as she felt empathy for Esau and was concerned how he would cope without his fur. We discussed dogs we knew that had their fur trimmed regularly and this helped her to feel a bit better. The next night Miss 5.5 wanted me to read the book again but her little sister refused to listen to it. As I read it with my eldest on my lap my youngest stood in the doorway listening and about halfway through the book joined us on the couch. The next day I saw her reading the book to herself several times.
This book also provided a very good way of reinforcing a message I had been trying to teach them. Both girls have long hair so it is important that they brush it at least twice a day to minimise knots. Now if one of them refuses to do her hair I just need to mention Esau (or her sister will often mention it before I get a chance to) and they soon get brushing.
Above all Esau the Paw is a lovely story about a cute cat which my children love to reread. Being based on the author's own cat and written and illustrated by New Zealanders is a bonus.
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