#986 – This is Not a Cat by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka

FIRST, Some Special News:  I am a 2016 CYBILS Judge!

this-is-not-a-cat-cover-image This Is NOT a Cat!
Written by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Sterling Children’s Books  8/09/2016
40 pages  Ages 4—8

“Welcome to mouse school, where the first lesson is recognizing DANGER! And that means CAT. The teacher shows her students pictures of things that are—and are not—a kitty: a butterfly, a carrot, a bunny, a chicken. Her lesson is going as planned . . . until something enters the classroom that makes them all sCATter. But is their unwelcome guest really a cat?

“Written using only the words in the title, This is Not Cat is easy and satisfying for young readers to enjoy on their own, and delightfully hilarious for readers of all ages!” [PRESS RELEASE]

Three little mice arrive for school, carrying a wedge of cheese each for lunch. Today’s lesson is a difficult one: “Recognizing Danger.” While a smirking, orange calico cat menacingly peeks out from a poster, the teacher gives her lesson. One studious mouse takes notes. The other two horse around. What no one sees, is a pair of green eyes looking in the window. The teacher continues, and with each sentence she speaks, she changes the word she stresses.

“This is a cat.” — “This is not a cat.”
“This is not a cat.” — “This is not a cat.”

cat-spread-1One mouse tosses a paper airplane, while his friend cheers him on and the goldfish laughs from its round water-filled home. The third mouse watches the teacher and takes notes. Behind the poster, a window stands open. No one has noticed those leering green eyes have moved from the window. A cat, strikingly similar to the one in the poster, stands on its back feet, sticking to the same strange smile. The teacher’s lesson continues, until the teacher sees the cat and chaos fills the room.

LaRochelle has written an interesting, humorous story using only the four words in its title. (We’ll give him a pass on the contraction “it’s.”) Young children will quickly pick up the text and begin reading the story on their own. Despite how simple the writing may seem, LaRochelle’s story idea is brilliant. Yet the one who carries this story is the illustrator.
cat-spread-2Wohnoutka’s illustrations do the heavy lifting, telling the story with his cute, cartoonish characters. A quick look behind the tree will give you a heads up to the twist, as a rat watches the three mice head off to school, a wedge of cheese each for lunch. The three students have terrific facial expressions and body language, giving young children images to both react to and learn from. They range from a slack student to a studious one, and the mouse in the middle could go either way, but sticks with the slacker and his flying paper airplanes.

It is easy to criticize after the book is completed, yet I was hoping the studious mouse had noticed the cat and its shortened stance, enter through the window and not run. This mouse could have shown kids how being alert and taking great notes can make you a hero, as this mouse save the day, or at least the cheese. But had this happened, the bigger twist could not occur—and this twist is the big payoff.
cat-spread-3Young children will love the jokes, which make up the story: one rat in cat suit out for cheese versus a real cat. Parents may tired of reading This is NOT a Cat due to the lack of variation, but will be please to find their children are fine alone. Those children learning to read will appreciate a four-word text, which allows them to read an entire book to themselves or others without missing a beat (a stressed word maybe, but not a beat). This is NOT a Cat is near-perfect for building reading confidence in the youngest of readers.

THIS IS NOT A CAT. Text copyright © 2016 by David LaRochelle. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Mike Wohnoutka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sterling Children’s Books-, New York, NY.

AmazonIndie BooksSterling Children’s Books

Find This is Not a Cat! on Goodreads HERE.
Find These Fun Extras:
Activity Sheet
Drawing Sheet
Mouse Mask
Board Game
Part 1 and Part 2
Teacher’s Guide

Reprinted with permission from THIS IS NOT A CAT © 2016 by David LaRochelle, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Company, Illustrations © 2016 by Mike Wohnoutka.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

This is Not a Cat!
Written by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Sterling Children’s Books 8/09/2016

If interested, there are two new reviews up at the New York Journal of Books:


Little Night Cat by Sonja Danowski
NorthSouth, September 30, 2016

New York Journal of Books




A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy and Matthieu Maudet
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, September 21, 2016

New York Journal of Books




4 thoughts on “#986 – This is Not a Cat by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka

    • Plus the illustrations are terrific. My dog keeps asking me about the other two creatures roaming my floors. “This is not a cat!” Then points at the other one, “This is not a cat!” I’m beginning to think he has never seen a cat.


  1. SO much fun. I would not need to study in that class (although flying planes seems like a good idea). I know my cats. I never miss a chance to bark at one – even when they hide under cars and try to kill me.

    Love and licks,


    • You have a KILLER CAT loose in your area?! Oh, my, “That is a cat!” Take cover.

      I found out little chihuahuas can duck into the smallest spaces (and hide favorite bones in those spaces). Maybe that will help you.


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