Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 8 to 11
- Grade: 3 to 6
- Reading age: 8 to 11
The delightful adventures of a visually impaired barn cat and his annoying flea, as they set off to experience the world and find themselves participants in some of the most remarkable events of the early twentieth century.
Pudding Tat is born on the Willoughby Farm in 1901 — just another one of Mother Tat’s kittens. But it turns out that Pudding is anything but ordinary. He is pure white with pink eyes that, though beautiful, do not see well, and hearing that is unusually acute. He finds himself drawn to the sweet sounds of the world around him — the pattering heartbeat of a nearby mouse, the musical tinkling of a distant stream.
Soon the sounds of adventure call to Pudding, too. But before he can strike out into the wide world on his own, he hears a voice — coming from right inside his own ear. A flea has claimed Pudding as his host. The bossy parasite demands that Pudding take him away from the lowly barn and the drunken singing of his fellow fleas. He doesn’t want adventure but a finer life — one where he can enjoy a warm bed and blood flavored not with mice, but with beef tenderloin and cream.
Fortunately for this mismatched pair, the world is an extremely interesting place in 1901. Over the next decade and a half, Pudding and his flea find themselves helping to make history — a journey over Niagara Falls in a barrel, a visit to the Pan-American Exposition on the day President McKinley is shot, a luxurious stay in Manhattan with songwriter Vincent Bryan, a terrifying trip on the airship America, and a voyage on the ill-fated Titanic.
Through each narrow escape, the call to adventure for the cat, and luxury for his disgruntled flea, beckons them on, right to the devastation of a World War I battlefield. Then Pudding is filled with a new longing, one that brings him, with his flea’s help now, full circle and back home.
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
About the authors
Caroline Adderson is the author of Very Serious Children (Scholastic 2007), a novel for middle readers about two brothers, the sons of clowns, who run away from the circus. I, Bruno (Orca 2007) and Bruno for Real are collections of stories for emergent readers featuring seven year-old Bruno and his true life adventures.
Caroline Adderson also writes for adults and has won two Ethel Wilson Fiction Prizes, three CBC Literary Awards, as well as the 2006 Marion Engel Award given annually to an outstanding female writer in mid-career. Her numerous nominations include the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Most recently, Caroline was the Vancouver Public Library's 2008 Writer-in-Residence.
Her eight year-old son Patrick and his many friends inspire her children's writing. Caroline and her family live in Vancouver, British Columbia.
STACY INNERST was born in Los Angeles and studied art and history at the University of New Mexico. He is the illustrator of The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue by Suzanne Slade, which received four starred reviews and the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of RBG vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, a New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book.
- Nominated, Chocolate Lily Book Award
Excerpt: The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat, Adventuring Cat (by (author) Caroline Adderson; illustrated by Stacy Innerst)
The wide world drew Pudding on from the moment he stepped outside. The farm, the woods, the fields. He smelled it all.
And something else. His sensitive whiskers tingled with it.
The wide world was changing. Like Pudding, people were on the move, leaving farms for the cities, the old world for the new. Some wanted a better life, others adventure. All of them were dreaming. Dreaming big — of automobiles and airplanes, subways and electric lights. Dreaming of the things we take for granted now, but which were new amazements then.
The voice urged him on, too. “Giddy up.”
“Who are you?” Pudding asked….
“A flea,” the voice answered. “What did you think?”
For middle-grade readers, nothing could be better than the delightfully madcap and thrilling adventures of Pudding Tat in Caroline Adderson’s playful romp.
Globe and Mail
[A]n inventive and creative tale.
In her latest middle-grade novel, Caroline Adderson blends the right mix of history and fiction while crafting a story of cooperation, resilience, and bravery . . . Pudding Tat is a modest and heartfelt, albeit accidental, hero.
Quill and Quire