PERCY, POLLY AND PETE (1952)

PERCY, POLLY AND PETE (1952) was written in Mexico City, where my father was attending Mexico City College and getting a degree in Latin American Studies.  There were many adventures for us all in the Mexico of that time.

“A new book with more of the wonderful cats and kittens of Mrs. Newberry is so welcome that it scarcely needs a review. The first four pages will sell this one, which is about her own small daughter Sha-sha, a mother cat, Millie, and the three new kittens…. It is a charming moral tale for the nursery age, with pictures unsurpassed, some furry, tiny, lovable, some of a bold, sculptured power, all easy on the eyes of the listeners, and handsomely printed,” declared The Herald Tribune.

The New York Times agreed, “Cats, kittens, and Clare Newberry have always been a happy combination. In this latest picture book we again find the delightful rapport between the illustrator and her cats so evident in earlier works. Although the story is slight, the boldly outlined drawingsfrosted with pink and bluehave a rich texture and a sentimental quality designed to captivate.”

Childhood Education adds the embarrassing details, “Sharing the spotlight with Clare Newberry’s inimitable cats in a new volume is the artist’s own little daughter who calls herself Shasha. Shasha who was “rough on toys” at two, was equally “rough on kittens…she held them too much, she hugged them too tight, and she petted them too hard.” One day, as a special treat, she even gave them a bath in the big bathtub!”

Children from four to eight will be charmed by the account in both story and pictures…. The appeal of this book, however, will not be limited to children, for adults who admire the draughtmanship employed in revealing the subtleties of these entrancing animals….”

The Junior Reviewers had a wonderful review from a five year-old girl: “I never had any kittens but I had a puppy, and I put him down the clothes chute and I wheeled him in my baby carriage and dressed him up in clothes until I got big like Sha-sha. The puppy got big, too, and then he wouldn’t take any more nonsense, my father says. I loved this story and I read it and read it. The pictures are the best I’ve ever seen. I’m going to wash dishes and earn a copy for my very own.”

Once again following a true story, my mother had depicted an incident where I attempted to wash the kittens in our tub, being too little to understand that, as my mother quipped, “their mother cat had washing her kittens well in paw.”

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