Back in December when we had a week of holiday book recommendations, I really wanted to recommend Mrs. Katz and Tush, but it was the wrong holiday (so I recommended Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins instead). Luckily, like an elephant, I never forget. (Okay, that's a total lie. I never forget useless trivia, like that the plastic pieces on the end of your shoelaces are called "aglets." I forget important things, like where I put my keys, all the time. But back to the point . . . ) So now that it's almost Passover (Passover, in fact, starts tonight at sundown), I want to tell you all about my favorite holiday book, Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco.
Mrs. Katz and Tush starts when Larnel, an African-American boy, brings a kitten to an old, widowed woman who lives in his apartment building. The kitten is the runt of the litter, and it doesn't have a tail. Mrs. Katz is skeptical at first. She's never owned a cat before. But once Larnel agrees to help her take care of the cat, Mrs. Katz agrees to adopt it. She names it "Tush" because without a tail, all you can see is its tush.
As Larnel starts spending more time with Mrs. Katz taking care of Tush, she shares her past with him — her family coming to America from Poland, dancing on vacation in the Catskill Mountains at the Jewish vacation resorts, and celebrating all the Jewish holidays — including cooking a big Passover Seder for him. (A Seder is a ritual meal, kind of like a Thanksgiving dinner accompanied by prayers.) The story highlights similarities between the Jewish and African-American experiences, and over the course of the story Larnel becomes Mrs. Katz's family.
The book is gorgeously illustrated, the characters are wonderfully real (or as Mrs. Katz was fond of saying, "such a person"), and — since I know half of you are cat people — Tush is adorable. This is one of those books that makes adults cry because it's so beautiful, but I guarantee you'll like it too.
— Carly H., STACKS Staffer