A few years ago, I stumbled across juvenile fiction titled Mr. Putter and Tabby. I can't remember if this duo were baking a cake or running a race first, but they were up to something.
In the books written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard, Mr. Putter is an elderly gentleman who lives alone until he meets his new old cat, the supportive Tabby. The two of them have their habits — eating oatmeal, taking naps — but every once in a while, they manage to find just enough trouble to get their hearts pumping.
Usually it involves their neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, who lives alone with her good dog, Zeke. Mrs. Teaberry is up for adventure and always wants to try something new. Zeke wants to be a dog and chew, though he also knows how to be as polite as a bulldog can be.
The watercolor drawings are charming and expressive, the stories are sweet and the characters are lovely. I am hooked.
They have gotten into a slew of adventures, Mr. Putter and Tabby, and Mrs. Teaberry and Zeke usually factor in, even if it's peripherally. While the characters are somewhat traditional in their mannerisms, they usually have a few surprises hidden up their sleeves.
One of the hooks for me is the drawings — more specifically, Tabby draws me in. Tabby's face is expressive, especially when her teeth start chattering. Usually she's pretty laid-back, but when faced with temptations that cut to the quick of her cat-ness, she chatters. (When faced with a roomful of yarn, what cat wouldn't?) Also, Tabby is more than content to just be with Mr. Putter, and that warms my heart.
Mr. Putter is no slouch in these stories. We don't know a lot about him and Mrs. Teaberry, but we learn a little more with every story with glimpses into their youth and young adulthood.
Frankly, everyone needs these people in their lives. I am fortunate that I have my own Mrs. Teaberrys and Zekes in my life with two wonderful neighbors who also are friends. Plus, it's no secret that I have my own Tabby or two, which makes good cat stories all that much better.
This week at the library, I discovered a few more adventures of Mr. Putter and Tabby that were new to me, and I walked out with a half a dozen books. They were delicious.
I am thrilled to discover that Mr. Putter and Tabby have a new adventure coming out next week, and I will anxiously await its arrival at the library.
If you haven't met these delightful characters yet, I suggest you visit your local library or bookstore. You can't go wrong with any of the titles in this series.