The Cats of Cuckoo Square: Two Stories

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9780385729260: The Cats of Cuckoo Square: Two Stories

Blossom, a plump and happy cat, is horrified when 6-year-old Prissy comes to stay with her family. She’s the meanest girl Blossom’s ever met, and she’s turning Blossom’s life upside down. When Prissy pulls her tail, Blossom makes up her mind: Prissy must go! All she needs is a plan. . . .

Perkins is a wise old tabby cat with problems of his own. His 8-year-old owner insists on doing his picture for a Paint Your Pet competition. All Perkins wants is a little peace and quiet. He doesn’t expect to find a surprising talent of his own. . . .

Funny and accessible, these two chapter books in one about the Cats of Cuckoo Square are impossible to resist.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Adèle Geras is the acclaimed author of numerous books for young readers, including The Fabulous Fantoras series
and Troy.

Tony Ross is the award-winning illustrator of the Amber Brown series by Paula Danziger.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

BLOSSOM'S REVENGE
“Look at that cat!” said Prissy Pinkerton. “Why is it so fat?”

Honestly! I had never been so insulted in my life! I may not be as slim as I once was, but no one could possibly call me fat!

Prissy Pinkerton is a very nasty little girl. She doesn’t look nasty. If you could see her, you would almost certainly say “How sweet!” She is six years old. She has curly golden hair. She wears white socks. She sucks her thumb. Her cheeks are dimpled. Her eyes are blue. Nevertheless, she is nasty. I knew she was nasty the moment she opened her mouth to speak.

My name is Blossom and I’m one of the Cuckoo Square Cats. There’s a garden in the square, with railings all around it and a gate that’s kept locked. The flower beds are well dug, and there are plenty of shrubs under whose branches we can hide. We like sharpening our claws on the trees, although it is only young kittens who go scrabbling up to the topmost branches just for the fun of it. My friends and I are too old for that sort of behavior. We sit on the benches or flop about on the soft grass in the summer. The humans have keys to what we cats call Our Place, because we are the ones who use it most often.

My particular friends are Perkins (whose people are called the Blythes at number 27), Callie (from number 18), and Geejay (whose real name is Ginger Jack, and who curls up in front of a fire at number 2). Perkins is a large, dignified tabby who has lived in the square longer than any of us, Callie is a sweet-natured, gentle calico cat with white fur prettily spotted in orange and black, and Geejay looks like a lion. He has yellow eyes and is the best hunter in the square.

As for me, I’m fluffy and black and white, and I like to go through life as calmly and peacefully as I can.

Other cats come and go, and we allow them to walk through the square, but only on their way to somewhere else. This is our territory. This is where we come to get away from our humans, to exchange news, and especially to tell stories.

Earlier today, we were all waiting for the Pinkertons to arrive at my house with their little daughter.

“She is a relation,” I told them. “her name is Prissy. Her parents are bringing her to stay with us for the summer holidays while they find a new house and get it ready. She’s supposed to be company for Miles.”

Perkins opened one eye and announced, “Visitors never turn out to be what you think. We have them all the time.” He yawned. “Wake me up when she arrives. I do not like to miss anything, but it is hard to keep one’s eyes open.”

“Perhaps,” Callie murmured, “she’ll be a lovely little girl.”

Callie expects the best of everyone.

I, also, thought it would be delightful to have another child in our house. My people are called Mr. and Mrs. Randall, but I call them Mum and Dad because that is Miles’s name for them. They are good humans, although they have their faults. Mum is house-proud. She prowls through rooms armed with a fearsome device called a Hoover, which sucks dirt out of the carpet and makes a most distressing noise.

When I was a kitten, I thought the Hoover was a monster and hid from it under the chest of drawers, but I'm used to it now. Mum has a long metal tube that she attaches to the Hoover sometimes. "This is my Dustbuster, Blossom," she told me once. "It works wonders with cat hairs."

Whenever Mum mentions cat hairs, I yawn. She goes on and on about them. They are her favorite subject. She ought to be grateful that I am black and white. I leave pale hairs on the dark things and dark hairs on the pale things, and this allows her to play happily with her Dustbuster almost every day. Dad is a little absentminded. Sometimes he doesn't notice me. He has sat on me, tripped over me, and even driven off in his car while I was curled up asleep on the hood.

PICASSO PERKINS
My name is Perkins and I am an old cat and a wise cat. I am, in addition, familiar with all the sayings of Our Ancient Furry Ancestors. They say, for instance, "Breakfast is the right meal for interesting news."

Today at breakfast, Lexie said: "Guess what? There's a painting competition in the Bugle. It's called Paint Your Pet, and there are cash prizes! Also, the winning picture gets printed in the paper."

"Lovely, dear," said Melissa. "Please eat your cereal."

Lexie continued, through a spoonful of food, "Entries have to be in on Monday. I wish I'd known about this before ... we haven't got enough time. I want to do a portrait of Perkins. Jess'll be here in a second and I'll tell her about it, and we'll do it together. It's sure to win. Perkins is so beautiful, aren't you, Perkins?"

I looked up and blinked at her to show her my gratitude. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. Lexie likes to get her own way. She is not a calm and docile child. She goes upstairs two at a time; she never walks when she can run; and she climbs trees as well as many cats.

The Jess she was expecting is her best friend and she lives next door to us. Lexie is a great talker just like her mother. Melissa is a teacher at Lexie's school and believes in recycling and the creative use of various foodstuffs. The children in her class are forever making sculptures from old cornflakes boxes and egg cartons, and sticking lentils, beans, and uncooked macaroni onto cardboard, spraying them with gold and silver paint, and taking them home to proud parents.

Roland Blythe, Lexie's father, is an artist.

"I'm a pro," he says. "A real professional. There's not many who can say they make a decent living from their brushes. Starving in a garret wouldn't suit us, eh?" he says to his wife and daughter.

Nevertheless, Roland would love to have his paintings exhibited in a proper art gallery. That is what he would call success. His pictures end up on greeting cards, calendars, and wrapping paper. Still, I know he has been preparing what he calls "real pictures" in a shed at the end of the garden, which he calls "my studio." It is a delightful, warm place to curl up in during the chilly months of the year, and Roland likes to chat to me as he works.

"I value your opinion, Perkins," he says to me. "Tell me what you think of this. I call it ‘Seagulls at Sunset.’” He likes painting animals and birds. He has done "Puppies at Playtime," “Fluffy Fun" (rabbits), and "Purrfect Peace" (kittens asleep). I never tell Roland my opinion of his work, but Blossom, Callie, and Geejay know that I am not a great admirer of his pictures. Their colors are too bright or too pale. They are all much the same as one another and they are what Lexie and Jess call "soppy." Whenever Roland shows me something new, I purr enthusiastically and pretend to examine the painting carefully, but often my eyes are half-closed and I am thinking about my next sleep and where I might be most comfortable. I would not wish to hurt his feelings, for as the Furry Ancestors say: "A purring cat is never short of chopped chicken liver." But let me return to the breakfast table. Lexie had decided my portrait was going to win a prize.

"That's very exciting, Lexie," said Roland, "but I have some thrilling news of my own. Look at this letter."

He waved it around, narrowly missing the milk jug. "Wilfred de Crespay is coming to view my work on Saturday. That’s tomorrow ...oh, my word!" He began to fan himself with the letter. "I've gone quite hot and bothered."

"Who's Wilfred the Crisp?" Lexie said. "Is he foreign?"

"De Crespay," said Roland. "His name is probably of Norman origin, but he is English. He is one of the best-known art dealers in town. He goes to see what artists are painting and chooses pictures to go in his qallery. Then rich people buy them for lots and lots of money. I could be famous! I wrote to him some time ago but never really expected an answer. Goodness me! And such short notice! He says he likes to catch painters as they are and not give them too much time to prepare new work. But I must go and begin to get everything into a fit state to be seen."

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