HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Wilderness Cat
Author: Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Illustrator: Mark Graham
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, 1992
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie. Wilderness Cat (published in 1992 by Cobblehill Books, New York City, NY). Set in the late 1700s, this picture book, which we checked out of the library for our younger son Jeremy to have extra practice when he was learning to read, tells the story of Serena and her pioneer family who move one summer from northern Vermont to the Canadian Wilderness fifty miles away, leaving their beloved cat Moses behind. Getting food is difficult, so Papa must return to their old home several times for cornmeal. The following winter, at one point, he is away so long that Serena, her sister, and their mother run out of food. Then Moses appears at their door, thin and bedraggled, but carrying a large, freshly killed snowshoe hare.
Author Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, who also wrote The Night the Bells Rang, adds some period details, such as cornmeal mush, a cart trip, and Indians, to fill out the storyline. The simple, direct text effectively relates the events and provides an elementary glimpse of early settler life. The Indians are pictured as kind and generous. Illustrator Mark Graham’s full-color impressionistic paintings realistically portray an appealing heroine, her loving family, and a vast, savage wilderness. Children will enjoy the satisfying conclusion, and animal lovers will certainly be touched by this brave feline’s Incredible Journey style of perseverance.