Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic


10.28.15 • 8:25 am EDT | 0 responses |

April’s Kitten

By Clare Turlay Newberry


I love these Way Back Wednesday classic picture books featured on The Snuggery. This particular one was given to me as a gift when my brother visited a favorite book store “haunt” of his in Florida. I asked him to browse the classic picture book section, and voila, he came up with this gem.

It won Caldecott Honor designation in 1940, and ALA Notable Children’s Book inclusion in books spanning 1940-1944. And it’s easy to see why, even in 2015. And if you think a book from 1942 is out of touch, listen to this line from the opening page as young April, living in a New York apartment with her parents and a cat has to find new digs for her cat’s offspring with this quote:


“Nobody has much room in

New York because so many

people are trying to live there

at the same time. So April and her

mother and father and Sheba live

all crowded up together in a very

small apartment.”



Still pretty true long after it was written, right?

Plus, its art and narrative hold up over time. It is not “dated” in the least. In fact, its story of a black kitten named Sheba, seemed a “purr fect” Way Back Wednesday fit for this season leading up to Halloween.

Imagine the reading worth of a picture book that can hold up for over 50 plus years, and has a reissued edition to boot.

That is pretty impressive, and just one of the reasons that I keep bringing books like “April’s Kitten” forward for new generations of readers, whose parents or grandparents might have missed them.

Their art and narrative with great vocabulary, sentence structure and imagery, both entertain children and show them what “great” looks and sounds like, as compared to mediocre.

Mediocre is okay, but maybe not as a steady diet, as unbridled candy consumption may be okay for a day come Halloween; but not everyday. There is nourishment of the mind to be found in these classics. So come and enjoy.

Young April is faced with a dilemma. Her cat, Sheba, has delivered three kittens. They are all different, and are named Charcoal, Butch and Brenda.

How young April finds a solution to finding adoptive homes for Sheba’s sweet cats living in a small apartment, is a wonderful book for cat lovers, animal lovers – or just about anyone.

Will she find all three homes or will a new apartment be the solution for at least some of April’s cat coterie?

I loved reading about Ms. Turlay Newberry’s  childhood in Enterpise, Oregon, and her innovative idea of drawing on small strips of  papers found between Shredded Wheat Biscuit boxes back then, as paper was scarce. Now that was enterprising.

Studying at the California School of the Arts and Grand Academie de la Chaumiere in Paris, among other places, she also wrote three additional Caldecott Honor picture books, and they are:


Barkis  – Will go straight to the hearts of dog lovers of all ages – The New York Times.  Relates the story of a sister jealous of a brothers new dog.


Marshmallow –  Tells of a relationship between a cat and a baby rabbit.


          T-Bone the Babysitter – Meet a cat with spring fever. 


All four are classic picture book reads!

Why not try one…. or all four?




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