During English time in Kindergarten, students read Jenny and the Cat Club, a simple yet powerful story by author and illustrator Esther Averill. It is set in New York’s Greenwich Village, where an orphaned black cat lives happily with her master, a sea captain. Still, the gentle Jenny Linsky would like nothing more than to join the local Cat Club, whose members include Madame Butterfly, an elegant Persian, the high-stepping Macaroni, and stately, plump Mr. President. But can she overcome her fears and prove that she, too, has a special gift?
“It’s by far one of my most popular books in Kindergarten,” says English teacher Andrea Cavallo, who has been reading it in class for close to ten years. Why? Because Jenny Linsky, the little black cat, is extremely easy for the children to relate to. She is honest, fun-loving and loyal.
To be accepted in the “Cat Club,” Jenny needs to show that she has a talent. When she gets a red scarf, she gains the confidence and bravery to do that. “Children find Jenny’s lessons about emotions and behavior helpful and reassuring,” says Andrea, “it’s an opportunity to talk in class about what they can be proud of, what they are shy about.”
As part of the unit on Jenny Linsky, children made cat masks, and each received a red scarf that they proudly wear on the playground. “You could see them acting out the story spontaneously while wearing the mask and the scarf!” noticed the teacher, who thinks the book is a great way to develop oral language, strengthen community building and foster a love of literature among the children.
Andrea recommends that parents get the Jenny Linsky Cat Club Book Series to build on students’ interest at home.