Series: Cat Tales
By Linda Newbery
It was a summer of hot, hot days, one after another. The sun shone down from a clear blue sky. Jessie could hardly remember when the weather had been any different, though she supposed it must have been, because in her wardrobe there were coats and scarves and gloves, clothes she couldn’t imagine ever needing to wear. Now, everyone wore sun hats and sunglasses and sunscreen, and the coolest clothes they could find.
Dad had taken a fortnight off work to spend holiday time with Jessie. Every morning and every evening they went to the allotments, where Dad grew beans, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. He was very proud of his strip of ground. He’d dug and weeded and raked and planted every bit of it, sometimes helped by Jessie.
After so much dry weather, the plants needed rain.
“Perhaps tomorrow,” said Jessie’s dad. He and Jessie looked up at the sky, hoping for even the smallest wisp of cloud. “Perhaps the day after. Perhaps next week.”
The runner beans were wilting in the heat, the tomatoes thirsting, the peppers turning fire-bright. Dad’s face was tomato-red when he carried watering cans to and fro, every morning and every evening. Jessie helped, though the cans were heavy and it was hard not to slosh precious water over her feet.
The water butts had been drained long ago – not a single drop left. Everyone had to use the tap, and there were often queues. Jessie and Dad carried and poured, poured and carried. The baked earth sucked up water in greedy gulps. More, more, it gasped. There was never enough. The ground was so dry that cracks opened up.
Jessie pleaded with the sky. “Please rain! Just a little bit! You could, couldn’t you?”
It was the same for everyone at the allotments. People had thirsty marrows and peas to look after, callaloo and aubergines, potatoes and carrots, and flowers for cutting. Everyone was busy, growing and tending their fruit and vegetables. Open Day was the week after next, and everyone wanted to grow the plumpest tomatoes, the shiniest onions, the brightest flowers.
“Rain. Rain. Rain.” That was Honeysuckle, in the patch next to Dad’s, chanting to herself as she weeded her herbs. She saw Jessie looking, and called across, “We must all think very hard about rain. Think rain and clouds and mist. Think with all your might.”
Jessie liked Honeysuckle, with her patchwork waistcoat and tinkling bracelets and smiley face, so she closed her eyes and thought and thought as hard as she could.
She pictured fat, brimming clouds. She heard rain pattering against a window. She saw puddles, saw her feet in wellies, stamping and splashing.
But when she opened her eyes again, the sun was still fierce. It dazzled her, and made her skin prickle.
“Come on, Jessie.” Dad was locking up his shed. “Time to go home.”
Jessie is helping her dad prepare for the Open Day on his allotment. Unfortunately the long, hot summer means the vegetables look tired and wilted. When a mysterious stray cat arrives at the allotments, Honeysuckle, one of the gardeners, declares it a Rain Cat from Thailand. Jessie has always wanted a pet, and is happy to help Honeysuckle pamper the cat with presents and make up poems to help the rain come. Naturally, the other gardeners are sceptical…but then it starts to rain…and will not stop! Curl up with Cat Tales, from award-winning and enchanting storyteller, Linda Newbery. Each tale is a charming stand-alone story, at turns magical, mysterious, comic and touching.
“"bound to delight early readers"”
“***** Betty Bookmark Five Star Review”
“This lovely little book, with its gorgeous illustrations and clear, easy-to-follow text, is bound to delight early readers – and its theme of connecting with nature chimes perfectly with the times.”
“'a cat-that-got-the-cream' four out of five for read-ability. It would be catastrophic to miss out.”
Wham - CITV
“A magical, heart-warming tale which is one of several standalone Cat Tales from enchanting storyteller Linda Newbery.”
“Two new books by Linda Newbery will appeal to feline fans but also to any young reader in search of short yet fully developed stories to tackle alone. Cats can be masters of disguise and the mysterious Rain Cat that lends its name to the title of the first book in this new series may not turn out to be like the Royal Rain Cat of Thailand that it first appears to be, after all.”
Evening Echo (Cork)
“It is a lovely story about a cat with fur 'the colour of rainclouds' who appears on the allotment where Jessie and her dad spend time in the holidays growing vegetables. But it hasn't rained for ages and the water butts are empty. Is this cat really a Royal Rain cat from Thailand as someone suggests?”
“Rain Cat, a gentle tale about a community of local allotment owners who adopt a ‘stray’ cat, is an engaging and satisfying read. Linda Newbery is already an award-winning writer and this tale offers younger readers a chance to experience her storytelling skills. Ideal for newly independent six, seven, eight-year-old readers, this book will make a worthy addition to the library and to classroom shelves at the younger end of the junior school.”
Prue Goodwin - School Librarian Journal