Animal Stories

Pretend You’re a Cat
By Jean Marzollo
Illustrated by Jerry Pickney

Theme: What animals can do. How much fun I can have pretending to be an animal.


  1. Tell your children that the little girl on the cover of the book is pretending to be an animal. Ask them to guess which animal. Accept all of their answers as valid.
  2. Read the title and tell your children that the whole book is about pretending to be different animals. Your children may want to guess at some of the animals that will be in the book. Illustrations on the cover give some clues.


  1. For each animal in the book, the combination of prose, illustrations of animals and illustrations of children pretending to be animals will ensure that your children will be highly motivated to be physically active with this book.
  2. So, on the first reading, be sure that each child has plenty of wiggling and acting-out space.
  3. Use all three depictions to read to the children. Read the prose. Have the children guess the animal. Show the children the illustrations of the animal. Have the children tell how the animal behaves. Show the illustration of the children. Ask the children to tell you what the book children are doing and what animal they might be pretending to be.


  1. Use the last illustration of the hibernating child and bear to settle your children into a quiet response time.
  2. Giving each child time to tell, not act out, her favorite animal will help the settling-down process.
  3. This is a definite re-read book!
  4. Be sure you talk about the details of the illustrations.

Extensions: – What to Do with a Box?

Materials: A cardboard box for every two children doing the activity.

  1. Show the page of the chick to a small group of children. Talk with your children about how the book children used the box.
  2. Let your children hatch.
  3. Move among your children with the book and talk to them about how they might use the box to be other animals in the book.
  4. With safety as your guide, accept as valid all of the ideas your children suggest.

Cognitive Development: Imagination, body language, oral expression, classification and representation.

Source of Pretend You’re a Cat activities – Children’s and Books I, the best of 86 African American Story Books and Activities for All Children, by Patricia Buerke Moll. To order, contact Patricia B. Moll at

4104 Lynn Avenue, Tampa, FL 33603

or (813) 238-2221

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