Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler
Tabby McTat
Julia Donaldson

Illustrator: Alex Scheffler

  • Category:Children's Fiction, Picture Book
  • Date Read:23 May 2023
  • Year Published:2012
  • PAGES:40
Bojan The Librarian

This book tells the story of Tabby McTat, a cat with a miaow that is loud and strong, and who is busking on the city streets with Fred, his human friend. It is their life - they had fun, and they were always surrounded by spectators who are generous and throw coins in the busker’s hat.

One day, when Fred is having lunch, Tabby McTat goes on a stroll and meets a beautiful green-eyed cat called Sock. While the cats are talking, Fred falls upon hard times. A thief snatches the hat with the coins, and as Fred gives chase, he falls, breaking his leg and ending up in a hospital.

When Tabby McTat comes back, Fred is not there. After a week of waiting, Sock finds Tabby McTat sad and “abandoned”. She takes him to her human friends, Prunella and Pat, and his new life begins, filled with new adventures and identity changes. Will Tabby be happy? What happened to Fred? Will they ever find each other again?

The book is written in a fun rhythmic rhyme, a variety of Sestain, which uses six lines stanzas in an A, B, C, C, C, B scheme:

  • A week later, Sock took a stroll around the block,
  • And found her new friend looking thin,
  • “He’s gone off and left me!” said Tabby McTat.
  • Then Sock said, “My people, Prunella and Pat,
  • Would gladly find room for a fine tabby cat.”
  • She was right, and they took McTat in.

The story flows like a song, making it great to read aloud, and there are many lessons children will identify with. I will mention a couple of examples:

There is the issue of equality. Children see a cat singing with a human. They are a great couple! Also, there is the message to follow your passion and use the gifts you have: Tabby McTat has a loud miaow and he knows how to use it. He is a singer.

And then there is the issue of Change. All the time, things change, like the changes Tabby McTat faces when he loses his owner, Fred. When you think you’ve figured something out, something different comes along, like Sock offering help, and whatever the rules of life were before, they are not the same. It can be hard and it can be scary, children learn, but we can go through things with the power of love and friendship. Look at Sock, who came and helped Tabby McTat.

Tabby McTat never forgets Fred, and there is a lesson in growing up, of changing generations, and ultimately, the need to live in the present moment.

From the moment I laid eyes on the beautiful illustrations of this book, I knew that it was going to be a deep and heart-warming adventure. I brought it home for my daughter, and since then it has become a source of love, peace, and music in my home. One of our favourite books!

Extracts from Tabby McTat

Watch this video to have the story of Tabby McTat read aloud
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Julia Donaldson  and Alex Scheffler
Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler
Alex Scheffler claims that when Julia Donaldson first saw his illustrations she was not impressed. Yet they have now collaborated on children’s books for three decades. The pair were interviewed by the Guardian in 2022. Click here to read the Guardian article.
Tabby McTat and Fred
Tabby McTat and Fred
Scheffler's illustrations are heart-warming and easily capture the emotional dimension of Donaldson's story