cover image How to Talk to Your Cat

How to Talk to Your Cat

Jean Craighead George. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.89 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027969-1

These approachable and informative paper-over-board volumes belong on the shelf of anyone who lives (or is contemplating living) with a dog or cat. George (Julie of the Wolves) displays her affection for and expertise on these animals--as well as her breezy humor--as she focuses on ways in which dogs and cats communicate their needs and moods to their owners. Best of all, she offers tips on making it a two-way conversation. The dog-centered volume, for instance, covers how a canine uses its tail as a ""flag of feelings"" and communicates through a spectrum of barking sounds. George's chatty, easygoing style incorporates numerous wry asides: ""Although it is fun, it is not very rewarding to bark at your dog. He doesn't understand your bad accent and may twist his head and look at you in confusion."" Yet she explains how to express, through voice and posture, various messages, such as ""Good night"" and ""I am boss."" For cat lovers, she explains, ""Cat talk is a complicated, self-centered language"" spoken through movements of tail, ears, whiskers and the pupils of the eyes. They are fiercely independent, says George: ""They own you. You cannot own a cat."" In both volumes the artwork features Truesdell's (And the Green Grass Grew All Around) signature amiable cartoon animal characters interacting with silhouetted photos of the author, an ideal visual complement to the personal, jovial tone of the narrative. Ages 6-9. (Feb.)