The 89th Kitten
When Miss Berry retired she had hoped that she would have time to
enjoy her home and garden. She found instead that she was very lonely in
her immaculately clean house and her beautiful blue garden. Then she
adopted Blackberry, a stray kitten that was starving. Blackberry became
the first of many cats and kittens that found their way into Miss Berry’s
garden and into a life of love and comfort. Helped by Sandy, her
chatterbox neighbour, they rescue and care for eighty-nine felines until
the local council demands they get rid of sixty-nine of them. How can
they choose twenty cats to keep from all the rest? How can they find
homes for sixty-nine cats and kittens?
This third person narrative captures the heart of the reader. The
impulse to go out and adopt every stray cat will have to be controlled. The
generation gap disappears when Sandy and Miss Berry set about their
task and the love between them and their cats is acute. This novel deals
with parent separation, animal welfare, caring and sharing.
Sharing the Novel
This novel can be shared over three independent reading sessions and
four sharing sessions.
Sharing sessions begin with students sharing their feeling and thoughts
about what they are reading. New ideas and questions can be shared and
opportunities presented to gain further knowledge from personal and
group activities. Shared sessions should be stimulating, encouraging
students to take an active part in discussions.
Rereading and quotations should be encouraged to back up explanations
and substantiate ideas.
Sharing Session 1
Read the blurb and look at the cover pictures. List three facts you
have learnt about the story.
Turn to the Contents page. List any themes you think may be dealt
with in the story.
Read to the end of Chapter 4
Sharing session 2
Why do you think Sandy chats to Miss Berry? How do you think Miss
Berry feels about Sandy? Why do you think that? What support did
you find in the story for this?
Why do you think Miss Berry wanted to tell Sandy about the kitten?
How did she know Sandy would be interested?
Blackberry is the name they chose for the cat. Can you suggest any
other name that could have done? Why did you choose that name?
How did Sandy's mother react when she heard about the six cats?
Was that fair? How would you react to having that many cats in the
house next door to you?
Read to the end of Chapter 8
Sharing Session 3
List all the things necessary to keep a cat happy and healthy.
Sandy's mother defends Miss Berry when the neighbours start to
complain. Why does she do that?
Why do you think Sandy thinks it is hard to write about her family?
Why did the teacher keep her in? Was the teacher fair to keep her
in? What else could the teacher have done?
Sandy gets angry when the cat number gets to eighty. Can you find
three reasons why she should get angry?
Can you identify any problems with having eighty cats to look after?
Can you think of ways the problems could be overcome?
Read to the end of the story
Sharing Session 4
List all the ways that Sandy and Miss Berry prepared for the cats’
sale. Can you think of anything else that may have helped?
Why do you think Pirate was so unfriendly? Why did he climb the
fence? What type of person would want a cat like Pirate?
Where does this story take place? What can you tell about the
neighbourhood where Miss Berry and Sandy live? Why do you think
this? Can you support your thoughts with reference to the story?
Using Black line master #1 fill in any facts you have discovered about
What themes were covered in this story? Were they the themes you
had thought of?
Write and illustrate the story of Knobbles' life.
Write an advertisement for the cat sale.
Write and illustrate this story for a younger reader. Read it to a
younger reader. What comments did they make about your story?
Write a letter from Sandy to her brother telling him about the cats
and Miss Berry.
If you have a cat, share with the group the story of where your cat
came from. What is its name? What is special about your cat?
Have one person in your group pretend to be Knobbles and interview
him. What is his life history?
Organise a debate about zoos. It is fair/unfair to keep animals in
cages so people can see them
Use the OHP to make shadow puppets for the cats.
Make a mask of one of the cats and tell the life history of your cat to
the rest of the class.
Make a pompom for the cats to play with.
Black Line Master 1
Six facts about Miss Berry
Teacher Notes: Trish Webb 1999