Story Box Diary: Gatos and Green, Green Grass
Writer and mum-of-two Katie Gregory reads January’s story box book – The Zoo Keeper’s Cat… ‘Mum! Mum! It’s just like the zoo we went to in the summer holidays’, said my son, pointing to the map at the start of The Zoo Keeper’s Cat. This month’s bright yellow Story Box greeted us on the doormat after a very soggy school run, and our sunny day at Paradise Wildlife Park – which we vlogged about back in September – seemed a distant memory by comparison.
January’s book is all about a cat called Nico, who dreams of being anything other than a cat. At the zoo, for example, he meets characters like the tall giraffe, or la jirafa alta in our English-to-Spanish book, and envies his long neck. The giraffe explains it’s not without its drawbacks: ‘You wouldn’t be able to fit through your cat door,’ he tries, but Nico is undeterred. A long neck would mean he could reach the cat biscuits the zoo keeper keeps in a high cupboard, after all. And so, Nico goes on like this, comparing himself to all the other animals – a happy chimpanzee, a brave lion and several more – and wishing he was something else. As we’re reading I use the phrase ‘the grass is always greener’ and promptly have to explain it to my eldest, who looks at me like I’m bonkers. And as we turn the pages, more adjectives – smelly, clever, beautiful – are gradually introduced in Spanish. Once we finish the story, the kids start flicking through the rest of the story box, and there are some really nice activities this month. As well as a sound safari – an activity at the end of the audiobook – there’s a game called Feeding Frenzy, and animal dot-to-dots that keep them both busy while I put the dinner on.
The last thing in the book is an activity where you build your own beasts – little cardboard cut-outs to colour in – so we get busy with the scissors and pens. As I’m hunting for a paper clip to hold them together, my littlest pipes up, still pondering the story: ‘But Mummy, why doesn’t he want to be a cat? ‘Because green grass is always better’, says my eldest, with all the conviction of an older brother who knows what he’s talking about. ‘Isn’t that right Mum?’