December 1, 2013

Must Read Mentor Text: Cat in the Manger

I couldn't wait to link up with Amanda and Stacia of Collaboration Cuties for this week's Must Read Mentor Text party! I don't teach Math or Social Studies so I really don't have texts to share those weeks... but give me Language Arts! This week I'm sharing a favorite story told in a book that is new to me.

A long time ago, in a faraway land, a cat lived in a barn. Of course, he had to share it with all the other animals: cows, goats, chickens, and mice! Then, one wintry night, the door flew open and in came a man and a woman on a donkey, to take shelter from the snow. Beautiful watercolors and the cat's simple words create a moving retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus....

Told from the point of view of a furry feline who finds himself sharing the first Christmas with the Holy Family in the stable, this wonderful little story brings a freshness to a familiar tale. The pictures are ethereal in feeling with a blueness, a peacefulness, a mysteriousness that draws the reader/listener in. Who can resist a cat, right?

Since the story of Jesus's birth is so familiar to my students, having it told from a cat's point of view will be a nice change. I'm thinking that I will read the book to them without showing the pictures. They will quickly determine that this is a retelling of the Nativity story, but I wonder how long it will  take before they infer that the narrator is a cat. There is no direct information in the text that expressively tells a cat is the storyteller.

As part of the class during which I will present this story to my students we will also play Nativity Zap!, a game that's available in my TpT store, and will be offered at a 28% discount during the upcoming Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale at TpT My kids go wild for ZAP! and I've been hard pressed to keep up with making new games for them. Nativity Zap gives students practice identifying independent clauses, dependent clauses, and phrases within the context of the story of the First Christmas.

To go along with today's Must Read Mentor text, I made an additional set of five cards for my Nativity ZAP! game. The five cards contain reference to the story of the Cat in the Manger, and are only available HERE or by clicking on the graphic of them directly below. They make a nice addition to my original ZAP! game and tie in the mentor text well.

I have told the story of the manger kitty to hundreds of students over the years, not from this book that I just recently  purchased, but as a story that I learned after reading it in some woman's magazine around Christmas time. The story in the magazine explained how Tabby cats received the "M" mark on their heads: Mary was so happy that the little tabby cat had quieted and warmed Baby Jesus that she stroked his head in thanksgiving. Her hand left the mark as a sign of blessing for the little tabby... M for Madonna, M for Mary, and M for the miracle of Jesus's birth! I was intrigued since I owned my own Tabby named Felicity (named for the saint who is included in the Litany of the Saints) who had the "M" on her head, and ever since I first heard this story I have owned a Tabby.

My current Tabby, Daisy Mae, has spent 14 Christmases with me. She is most definitely a Manger Kitty! As soon as my tree is assembled, she hops up on the table where it is and plops down near it and waits to have her photo snapped. Here is this year's pose wherein you can see her "M" clearly, and see that she is sitting near the manger. You can just see Baby Jesus in the foreground. Santa is kneeling near him. Notice that Daisy's mouth is open. She was giving me the what-for since I was taking too long to set the shot.

I leave you with a bit of trivia...

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci is actually credited with the inspiration for this quaint kitty legend? He loved to draw la Madonna del Gatto (The Madonna and the Cat) showing Mary, Jesus, and a furry feline friend and made numerous sketches of them in 1480 and 1481. One is pictured below.

Did Leonardo inspire the legend? Or did the legend really inspire Leonardo?

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I got chills reading this post! What a beautiful book! I will have to get this for my Sunday School class! I think the Zap may be too hard for them though...they are in you think it'd be too hard?

    I super love all of this!! So glad you linked up!
    Collaboration Cuties


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