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Children's Fiction Cats

What Cats Think

by (author) John Spray & Mies van Hout

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
Cats, Humorous Stories, Poetry (see also Stories in Verse)
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 10
  • Grade: 1 to 4


Cats take center stage for a colorful and whimsical celebration of feline personalities featuring the eye-popping illustrations of Mies van Hout

What do cats think when they get caught in the rain, or when a bird is just out of reach? If they could tell us, their voices would be full of charisma and attitude.

Cats have been our companions for thousands of years. From the sandy roads of Ancient Egypt to the shopping bag left on the kitchen counter, felines have always embraced their curiosity.

With a lot of history comes a lot of personality. Charming, capricious free verse from author John Spray pairs brilliantly with the striking art of celebrated illustrator Mies van Hout in this delightful tribute to cats.


About the authors

John Spray grew up in the Midwest and spent years as a successful amateur boxer, gym rat and boxing fanatic. He has been a Private Investigator in Toronto for forty years and is the owner and founder of Mantis Investigation. John also sponsors the annual John Spray Mystery Award for excellence in mystery writing for children.

John Spray's profile page

Mies van Hout is the author and illustrator of the picture books Happy, Friends, and Surprise, among others, which have been hugely popular in Europe and North America. She studied graphic design at the Arts Academy in Groningen, the Netherlands, and has worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer since 1989. Her distinctive paintings are cheerful and bold, and her work has been published in more than twenty countries.


Mies van Hout's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for What Cats Think

"This book perfectly encapsulates everything that is elegant and enigmatic, sinister and sassy in feline behavior....These verses will work well when teaching children that poetry comes in many forms, not just rhyming couplets....The rhythmic text and dynamic art will delight all readers, but cat lovers will take extra pleasure in the quintessentially feline traits celebrated in this book."—School Library Journal

"Are cats capable of poetry? They are in this volume...Color pours off each page in van Hout’s vibrant, bold illustrations—a mix of acrylic ink, oil pastels, and gouache. Her felines expressively embody Spray’s emphatic free verse, which authentically gives voice to cats’ changeable emotions."—Publishers Weekly

“Evocative, whimsical art portrays a wide array of cats exhibiting various activities, behaviors, and moods, and in lively free-verse poems, they individually explain the motivations behind them….van Hout’s art takes center stage in this imaginative picture book feline aficionados especially will enjoy.”—Booklist

“Rating: E…Fun to say words and phrases (slobbery, slathering kitty-eaters describe dogs) and bright large drawings of cats will make the verses appealing to young listeners.”—Resource Links

“[A] delightful tribute to domestic felines....Readers need not be cat lovers to thoroughly enjoy this book. What Cats Think is fun, imaginative and loaded with personality! Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“Colorful, expressive pictures of cats are accompanied by brief text.”—Kirkus Reviews

“With What Cats Think, Mies van Hout and John Spray have given us the context for cats’ looks and sounds that will remind us of the depth of feline reasoning and expression. It’s not surprising to many that cats have been celebrated and worshipped throughout history and it’s best we not forget this.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“There is much to pore over in What Cats Think and I enjoy that it doesn’t necessarily have a linear direction to it: that means that whether a reader is absorbed by the artwork, or particular cats, or particular poems- Spray’s poems are whimsical and should be hugely appealing to younger and older readers!- or whether a reader wishes to enjoy the picture book beginning to end, the story simply works.”—Fab Book Reviews

“[Mies van Hout’s] wonderful, warm and witty mixed media artwork bless the pages of this fascinating book....John Spray’s free verse text celebrates the cats presented. Each turn offers a double page spread with featured feline accompanied by tremendous variety in tone and temperament....You don’t have to love cats to love this book. It’s a charmer!”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“What a great way to have kids both explore their own emotions and relate to animals in their lives.”—Canadian Bookworm


Other titles by John Spray