Monday Memories: Marsh Cat by Peter Parnall

Marsh Cat
Published in 1991, just 4 years after I was born, MARSH CAT is a classic. It’s about a cat. I was obsessed with cats as a kid. I discovered this book in my small-town library when I was a kid, and at the time it was a challenge to get through. I remember reading through the intense and gritty descriptions of the swampy woods, slowly making my way across the waters along with the big black tom cat. It was very detailed writing, very slow and deliberate pacing, and I wasn’t used to that as a very young reader. But I loved it. I was inside that Cat’s head, seeing from his eyes, going through everything he was going through. It made a huge impact on me. I checked it out a couple of times that year, reading through it at least twice.
And then many years later, as a young adult, I remembered it. I remembered the Marsh Cat, his depth of personality and painful struggles and haunting adventures. But I couldn’t remember the title, exactly. And of course I knew nothing about the author. I didn’t remember what it looked like. I just knew that it was a book about a big black Cat that lived in the woods, and I wanted to read it again. I went back to that small-town library, hoping to find it again. I didn’t. I asked the librarian for help. And she found it, and I read it again. It didn’t feel quite the same, but it didn’t matter, because I had reconnected with that strong black cat. He was my friend. I had missed him.
About 5 years later, as an adult, I thought about the Cat again. I was hundreds of miles away from that small-town library I originally found the book in. And of course, again I could remember almost nothing about the book. So I asked a librarian for help, and she interlibrary-loaned it to me. I read it again. And again, it didn’t feel the same as those previous readings. I don’t even think I finished that last read-through, but it didn’t matter. I had rediscovered the Cat, that brave and strong friend who made his own path through life and faced all his fears. I miss him, still.

 Summary & Review:

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6– A compelling tale of a huge black cat, the sole surviving kitten of its one-eyed, feral mother. Cat’s birth in the Maine woods, his learning to hunt and survive, and his interaction with the area’s wildlife is told in read-aloud writing with an artist’s and naturalist’s eye and ear. Parnall tells a story of grim adventure softened by tender caring, vividly set against backgrounds of a forest and a marsh created by beaver dams. Cat is nudged by hunger and a wandering barn cat to a wary try on a farm where his mother once sheltered–and where a girl’s attempt to tame him saves his life. But the call of Crow, not Rooster, foretells Cat’s rejection of the warmly portrayed barn inhabitants and his return to the wilds. The jacket’s silhouetted feline, black except for its amber eye, is a knockout. –Ruth M. McConnell, San Antonio Public Library
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

mondaymemoriesMonday Memories is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. We created Monday Memories because we both love and collect books and wanted to talk about them. We hope you’ll want to share too.

Sadly, today is the last Monday Memories post, as the meme is being abandoned for a variety of reasons. It was fun and nostalgic while it lasted! For a look back at all of my Monday Memories posts go here.


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