Based on a true story, Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman with illustrations by Amy June Bates is a real winner for both music lovers and cat enthusiasts.
The book introduces us to Moshe Cotel, a composer for the piano who lives in a very busy and loud city. But far from it being a distraction, Moshe uses the urban noise as the starting off point for his numerous compositions.
One day, while on his usual afternoon walk around the neighborhood, he hears the forlorn "mew" of a tiny, lost kitten. He picks up the black and white tyke, names her Ketzel, and brings her back to his apartment.
Shortly thereafter, a letter arrives in the mailbox from the Paris New Music Review announcing a piano competition contest with one stipulation: No piece may be longer than sixty seconds!
Moshe exclaims that creating a musical work of such brevity is impossible, so he places the letter aside, not giving it another thought. On the other hand, the next day he decides to give it a try. From the outset, he is completely stymied by the task. Whatever he starts, he cannot finish. He takes his failures so hard that he temporarily stops playing the piano.
One day Ketzel creeps across the piano keys with all four paws much to Moshe's auditory delight. He proclaims Ketzel to be a musical genius who has composed the unbelievable: A piece for piano with a distinct beginning, middle and end that lasts only twenty-one seconds! So he names the solo composition "Piece for Piano: Four Paws", and sends it off to the contest judges.
A few weeks later, he receives a letter saying that although he didn't win a prize, the submitted work does merit a certificate of special mention, which comes with an invitation to attend a concert where the piece will be played.
Moshe sneaks Ketzel into the concert hall in his vest pocket and every time the young pianist chosen to perform the work mentions Ketzel by name, the kitten responds with a loud, emphatic MEOW!
Animals are forbidden from entering the concert hall but after Moshe reveals that Ketzel is the actual composer of the piece, both are allowed to remain. Several encores later, "Piece for Piano:Four Paws" turns into musical history.
Ketzel becomes quite famous and receives a royalty check in the amount of nineteen dollars and seventy-two cents which purchases many cans of yummy cat food.
An engaging tale, wonderfully reminiscent of Nora, the piano playing cat of YouTube fame!
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Rocky, a wonderful cat companion of one of my colleagues, Keith.