The Famous Nini : A Mostly true Story of How a Plain White Cat Became a Star
Illustrated by: John Manders.
Published: Clarion Books 2010
Age: 3 – and up
Theme: Cats, Cultural, friendship, Historical, Performing Arts
Opening Page: Long ago in Venice, on the Piazza San Marco, Nonna Framboni owned a caffe. She served strong coffee and sweet treats. But the caffe was so small, people passed by as if it didn’t exist. One afternoon, Nonna opened the door, hoping the scent of coffee might bring in a customer. There sat a plain white cat. “Nini the stray,” said Nonna. “Every day you beg on the piazza. Now I find you at my door. But I have no food to spare, not even a scrap.”
Synopsis: A stray white cat begging in the streets of Venice makes its home in a caffe run by its poor owner. Renowned composer Verdi wanders into the cafe to work on his latest opera. Unable to come up with just the right note until Nini meows, Verdi is thrilled and begins to frequent the cafe. The enterprising owner puts up a sign, The Great Verdi Takes His Coffee Here, and soon customers begin to flock to the cafe to see the famous composer as well as the now-famous cat. The King and Queen visited as did the Pope as did many famous people and Nini was declared Noble. When a small child of the Emperor visits we wonder if Nini can perform a miracle.
Why I Like this: There are many reasons why this book caught my attention. It’s cultural theme, and I love Venice – who dosen’t! As the jacket flap on the inside cover states…. Acts of kindness can be rewarded in unexpected ways, …. I also am a lover of cats and this book showed the special qualities that only cats posses. The story is engaging and on the back page is the Author’s Note of how the story came about including, the characters within. It’s the kind of story I hope to write. John Manders’ illustrations are rich, colourful and give one the feeling of being a patron of the caffe.
Activities/Links/Findings: Here are a couple of beautiful pictures and Author’s notes from the back pages;….. http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=NPdOOFYAqNoC&pg=PA32&lpg=PA32&dq=The+famous+Nini&source=bl&ots=GMIkL_qoWX&sig=8FJv3KL2Vl4-BIU-qO-ElQqxr7M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IB9GT8y3GqOdiQKupfDaDQ&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBA#
Get to know more famous cats at the library…. http://www.times-standard.com/lifestyle/ci_18727655
A suggestion to invite discussion with in the classroom would be to ask children to write down what acts of kindness they have done or could do for one another or family members.
Also here is a great website of Fun Facts for Kids…. http://www.venere.com/blog/venice-fun-facts/
For more books with resources please visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.