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Ice Cat

Ice Cat

It was the best snowfall Tom had ever seen. Sometimes, there had been a dusty sprinkling that melted into the roads and made them black and shiny. Sometimes there was a thick frost overnight that left a white fur on trees and walls and car windscreens. Sometimes there were curly patterns on the window, like ferns, that faded away when Tom breathed on them. But never before had he seen so much clean, sparkling, new, deep snow, that made him want to run in it and roll in it and scoop it up and throw it.

He went out in front of the house to look. Still the flakes came down, big and soft, as if someone had emptied out a huge sack of feathers and shaken them free.

Tom felt dizzy when he looked up at the sky and saw the white feathery flakes whirling. He could catch them on his tongue and taste the crystal coldness of them. The tracks his feet made filled quickly with soft new snow.

Next door, Gary and his dad were getting ready to come out, pulling on their wellingtons in the porch. “We’re going to build a snowman!” Gary shouted, leaping out, landing splat, then staggering forward, leaving two deep footmarks where he’d stood. “You can help if you want.”

Gary’s dad came out too, in a red fleece jacket and bobble hat. The small front garden was shared by the two houses. There was no fence between and usually the front garden was just a thin strip of green – usually. Now, it was a strip of white, dazzling and untouched, like a fresh page that made you want to write on it. Gary’s dad had shovelled and swept the snow away from the path to their front door, but Tom’s front path was still as the snowfall had left it, with two sets of footprints up to the door and back, left by the milkman and the postman.

“No, thanks. I’m going to build my own,” Tom shouted back.

If Gary’s dad hadn’t been there, Tom would have said yes straight away. It would have been fun to build a snowman with Gary. But not with Gary and his dad.

He went indoors for his gloves, and to tell Mum he was staying outside. When he came back out, they’d already started, Gary and his dad: rolling a ball of snow that was getting bigger and bigger.

They were spoiling the snow, making a big flattened track around their part of the garden. Tom had the feeling they were making it a competition. And because Gary’s dad was there, he wanted to win. He had to make a better snowman than theirs.

He didn’t want to copy, so instead of rolling a big snowball for the body he collected snow in his hands, scooping it up, piling it into a heap, shaping and patting it. His snowman was going to be different.

Different and better.

When they’d made a big round ball for the body, Gary and his dad rolled a second, smaller ball for the head, and set it on top. Theirs was already looking like a jolly snowman, the sort Tom had seen on Christmas cards. A fat, jolly, round-faced snowman, who would soon have a smiling face and a carrot nose. He would be big and cheerful like Gary’s dad.

Tom’s own snowman wasn’t at all like that. As he added more snow, and patted and smoothed and moulded it, the snow figure was taking a shape of its own. He could feel it through his soaking gloves, a firm, growing shape. It would only grow the way it wanted. If he tried to add bits that weren’t right, the snow crumbled and slid off.

The shape refused to become a snowman. It felt to Tom as if there was a creature inside the snow, pushing its way out. It didn’t want to stand upright, but crouched on the ground, a firm, huddled, living shape.

At last he stepped back and looked at it and saw what it was. Gary aimed a snowball. “That’s a funny-looking snowman! Couldn’t you get it to stand up? Ours does!”

The snowball spattered on the back of Tom’s fleece and a few wet bits slithered down his neck, but he took no notice. He could get Gary back later.

“It’s not meant to be standing up,” he said. “Anyone can make a snowman. Mine’s different. Mine’s a snow cat.”

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When Tom makes a cat of ice and snow, it comes to life at night: roaming the streets, prowling his dreams. What can it be looking for? Curl up with Cat Tales from award-winning and enchanting storyteller, Linda Newbery.

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Book information

Key Stage
Lexile Measure
Book Band
Accelerated Reader level
4.4 LY
ISBN: 9780746097311
Extent: 80 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm

Author information

Linda Newbery

Linda Newbery wrote her first novel during the summer holidays from her job as English teacher in a comprehensive school. Now a critically acclaimed full-time author, Linda has written over twenty novels, been shortlisted twice for the Carnegie Medal, and is the winner of a Silver Medal Nestle Children’s Book Prize and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Linda does much of her work in a writing hut in her garden but is often distracted by her own four cats ...

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Press reviews

“When Tom makes a cat out of ice and snow, it comes to life at night - roaming the streets, prowling his dreams. What can it be looking for? With illustrations on nearly every page, children will find Ice Cat an interesting and enjoyable read ... a perfect book for young readers.”

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