story by Wendy Cheek , illustrated by Amy Golbach

Composes dialogue between two cats featuring a cat’s point of view.

Identify the insight the character of Toby obtains when Tyler blows the whistle in his ear (he can communicate with dogs and can understand what they are saying to each other through their woofing). Discuss some of the things Toby can hear the dogs saying, such as:

When Toby misses the bus the Labrador explains that the next bus will be along in eight minutes.

He can hear the Labrador saying good morning to Fred, the terrier.

The Labrador explains that dogs could always talk, it’s just that humans don’t listen.

He overhears Charlie, the Beagle, arranging a playdate with Max, the German Shepherd, and asking if he is going to the park that afternoon.

He hears a bulldog and a white poodle complaining about their collars.

Ensure students note the fact that the humans are oblivious to the dogs’ discussions.

Discuss the ending ensuring students correctly identify that while Toby no longer can hear what dogs are saying he can now hear what cats are saying.

Discuss some of the interactions and habits between humans and cats and list these on the board. Sample ideas include:

Feeding cats tuna

Stroking them under their chin

Cuddling them

Cats wandering outside alone, away from their owners

For each example, discuss possible opinions cats may hold on the subject, focusing especially on any that might differ from the opinions of humans. For example: that cats actually cannot stand tuna, or that they only let humans stroke them under the chin so that they can get the best spot on the couch.

Discuss how you might include these ideas in a short piece of dialogue between two cats, that the character of Toby might overhear. A sample response is provided below:

Tabby cat: Blugh, tuna for dinner again. Have they no creativity!

Striped cat: I know, they don’t put much effort in to what they make for our dinner.

Tabby cat: Tuna makes me bloated anyway. I’d far rather their dinner. Is that chicken and vegetables?

Striped cat: Looks like. Shall we try and steal some?

Tabby cat: Yes, let’s do it. I’ll rub against their legs and distract them while you steal some.

Striped cat: That’s a great plan.

Place students in pairs. Instruct them to write a brief dialogue between two cats that reveals an unexpected point of view on a habit or interaction common between humans and cats. Instruct them to structure it as a play using the same structure as above. Refer students to the play The Hare and the Tortoise… and the Turtle (pages 24 to 27 of this issue of Blast Off) for an example of how to present a play script.