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The Good Luck Cat

by Joy Harjo
Illustrated by Paul Lee

Published by Harcourt, 2000
32 pages
ISBN: 0-15-232197-7

Ages 4 - 7

Podcast featuring this book

Woogie runs in front of a car and lives to calmly lick her paws on the other side of the street. She crawls under the car hood where the motor is still warm and doesn't even lose the end of her tail. She gets shot in the ear with a BB gun and survives - more or less intact. These and six other mishaps are recounted by a young school-aged girl who agrees with her aunt Shelly that their cat Woogie seems to have nine lives. Maybe more than nine, because Woogie seems to bring good luck to others, too. After Aunt Shelly pets Woogie on her way to bingo, she returns with enough money to buy shoes for the family. Our young narrator misplaced the favorite beaded earrings she had planned to wear to the spring powwow, and she later remembers that she located them under the bed after petting Woogie! Maybe this "stripedy cat with the softest fur, the tickling whiskers, and the green electric eyes" who "purrs as if she has a drum near her heart" really is a harbinger of good luck. Maybe it's all coincidence. That actually doesn't matter in the story. Joy Harjo's seamless, lyrical sweep though nine mishaps and a subsequent lost-cat episode is closely observant about cat behavior and yet remarkably fresh. She creates a warm snapshot of one particular contemporary family's experiences with their pet using a consistent, credible first-person narrative voice. Paul Lee's full-color acrylic paintings loom large on the pages of a first-rate picture book replete with more than one kind of new image. This children's book debut by one of today's significant poets is refreshing for another reason, too. Harjo is a literary celebrity who actually CAN write well for young children. Highly Commended, 2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award CCBC categories: Picture Books for Older Children.(GMK; Nov 13) 2000 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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