May I recommend a book to you?
This is my copy of Jennie, by Paul Gallico, who also wrote the more famous The Snow Goose. This beautiful book has coloured my view of cats ever since I read it as a child.
At the start of the story Paul is run over by a car and loses consciousness. When he comes round he has mysteriously been transformed into a cat. Since he has been a human boy all his life, he doesn’t know how to behave. Luckily, homeless cat Jennie teaches him what to do with his new body. My favourite piece of advice she gives him is, “When in doubt, wash”.
If you observe any cat who is trying to recover its poise after an undignified moment, you will notice that a quick lick of the paw or shoulder solves everything.
Jennie was published in 1950 and my hardback copy seems to have been purchased in Paris.
A student of mine is of Russian descent and he brought this little tiny book into school today to show me. I loved it and he just casually said ‘Oh you can keep it Miss, we have loads more at home’. I really don’t think I can accept, but I have brought it home for the night so I can have a good look at it.
I think the Cyrillic script is so fascinating because the shapes of the letters are familiar, yet the meaning remains mysterious. I have spent a while trying to make the title out with the help of the Internet, but I have totally failed.
Edit: Isobel has just shown me how to use Google Goggles [amazing!] and I now know the book is called something like “Roots Chukovsky” and the text on the cat page says ‘I byl cherrny kot vot takoy‘, which means “There is a black cat”.
I can tell that it’s a story about a little chick and a worm in which this fluffy cat plays a small role. It was published in 1985. My student is a Russian- speaker, so I will ask him to tell me more tomorrow when I give it back.
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