2010. New Zealand. Tiger is woken by the ground shaking and noises rumbling. He feels from his house and across the city as bricks fall, roads are swallowed up, and hides in a tree with other cats…but will he ever find his Emma and home again?
Title: Quaky Cat
Author: Diana Noonan
Illustrator: Gavin Bishop
ISBN: 9781775430292 Language: English
Themes: cats, earthquakes, New Zealand, home
What’s it about?
Tiger is woken from his slumber upon Emma’s bed but the ground moving and loud noises all around. Frightened and not knowing what is happening he runs through the city and watches as pigeons fly off and the landscape around him changes. He finds sanctuary in a tree with the other cats but when the next day arrives he heads off in search of home.
This story is written in verse and has a great flow to it. The story progresses chronologically and shows the before and after of landmarks in the city that were changed by earthquake. The illustrations are bold and complement the story without coming across as too scary.
It’s a long story compared to others.
Quaky Cat was written in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes (also referred to as the Darfield earthquake) that occurred on September 4, 2010. 50% of the net profits from this book were filtered back into Canterbury charities to help the survivors.
This book is written from the perspective of what Tiger sees, hears, and feels. My kids (age 3.5) really enjoy this book. They love talking about what they see and how all the cats hiding in the tree aren’t able to be seen because it’s nighttime – except for their glowing eyes. Their other favourite part of the story is talking about how the house has changed when he arrives back at his house at find Emma isn’t there anymore.
I would definitely use this book to introduce discussions about earthquakes and the destruction that can be caused. With the leading character being a cat is makes the story a little less confronting than if it had been a child (though the impact on Emma is still shown). I also think that incorporating information specific to the Canterbury earthquake would make sense if studying this book in New Zealand – Australians may want to visit their local government’s natural resources department; I’ve always found them to be really helpful for teachers. For example, our local office provided me with some data about our local tremors and even a copy of a seismograph printout – which was a BIG hit with my class at the time.
The other aspect to look at it discussions about what does make a home. The final few verses in this book use a repetitive pattern to convey that even in times of total devastation that home truly is where the heart is. Students could be challenged to write their own version of that section.
Overall, while the book is longer than most in this genre I feel that just makes it more accessible to slightly older students. Definitely one to consider for the science or STEM teacher for the classroom.