Occasionally we work in a broad, simple theme that allows us to do…well, pretty much whatever we can find. In this case, most stories involving a mammal were fair game. And with the number of bear, dog, and cat books out there? Finding stories was a breeze.


  • I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Bear and Chicken by Jannie Ho
  • The Only Lonely Panda by Jonny Lambert
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel



I Am a Cat

Theme connection: Cats are the quintessential whisker-n’-tail critter.

How we shared it: We used puppets: a kitty cat, a cheetah, a lion, a tiger, and a panther. Had to skip the mountain lion, as we had neither a puma puppet nor any other substitute large cats.

Bark, George

Theme connection: Dog. Whiskers. Tail. (One kid tried to tell us dogs don’t have whiskers. Puh!)

How we shared it: We have a flannel kit for this one. It’s fun to tell with two people, one doing the part of the vet.

Bear and Chicken

Theme connection: whiskery, taily bear

How we shared it: We acted this one out, with the bear in a big bear costume and the chicken as a puppet on the storyteller’s arm. When the bear chases the chicken, we did a few laps around the room. The kids love a good chase scene.

The Only Lonely Panda

Theme connection: Again, pandas fit the bill.

How we shared it: The lonely panda wore a panda mask, and all the other characters were puppets. (Not having a blue-footed booby puppet, we went with a goose.) The thing that made this story a success was having the lonely panda totally ham it up when trying to act like the other animals.

They All Saw a Cat

Theme connection: kitty

How we shared it: This was a quick read-aloud when we just had a few minutes left. There aren’t many words, but there’s plenty to look at and talk about on each page. Plus, it’s a Caldecott (Cat-decott?) honor, and we always like to talk about the Caldecott and Geisel awards around this time of year.




Seriously, you could go to any picture book shelf and find a good armful of books to fit the Whiskers n’ Tails theme, but here are a few we put out.

  • Pete the Cat books, by James Dean (original picture books by Eric Litwin, illus. by James Dean)
  • King and Kayla books, by Dori Hillestad Butler, illus. by Nancy Meyers (one of these just won a Geisel honor)
  • The New LiBEARian, by Alison Donald, illus. by Alex Willmore
  • Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper (a new Caldecott honor)
  • Mr. Wuffles, by David Wiesner (Caldecott honor)
  • I See a Cat, by Paul Meisel (a new Geisel honor)
  • There Are No Cats in This Book and There Are Cats in This Book, by Viviane Schwarz
  • The Catawampus Cat, by Jason Carter Eaton, illus. by Gus Gordon


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