Happy Cat & Merry Cat

This is the story of two spunky best friends named Catherine. They are nicknamed Happy Cat and Merry Cat. They love to dress up, drink tea and eat sandwiches and sweets. Their dream is to experience high tea. They devise a plan to earn money to make their dream a reality. Once in the tea shop munching on the delicacies, they are caught by their moms. They learn an important safety lesson.

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The cover for the children's story "Happy Cat and Merry Cat"

The front cover of Happy Cat & Merry Cat

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Inspiration for the Story

Inspiration for the story….came from a friend of mine named Katherine. Since she exuded joy celebrating any occasion with song and laughter, I nicknamed her Happy Kat. During the summers when we weren’t teaching, we would go for tea talking about one day owning our own tea shop. I began to imagine what it would be like if we were two little girls and poof, out popped this story, and subsequently, two more stories, Happy Cat and Merry Cat Meet Merry-Lynn and Happy Cat and Merry Cat Answer, Who’s Steering Your Ship?”.

An illustration of Keith

A self-portrait by Keith Cains

About the Illustrator

Keith has always drawn and painted. As a child, after the war when here were shortages of so many things, he would paint Christmas cards for the family to send to friends and relatives. In the early days most of his work involved pencil drawings and later he did many pen and ink drawings. This was complimented by his work as a draftsman for many years.

In recent years Keith has been drawn into the fascinating and often frustrating world of watercolour painting. He says sometimes it seems like the paints have a mind of their own which can often lead to surprising results, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Keith draws inspiration mostly from the natural world, landscapes, seascapes, birds and animals in particular but recently he has turned his hand to portraits and figure painting. He sees each new painting as an exciting journey, never sure of where the path will lead but always interesting and rewarding. His immediate ambition is to embark on some large scale works which he sees as particularly challenging for the watercolour painter. Maybe he just needs larger brushes. Now, if he can just get the cat to move off his drawing-board…..

He has participated in the Sidney Fine Art Show several times and in 2015 earned Honorable Mention for his work titled “Family Elephant”.

Guide for Reading: PRC

Predictions, Reflections and Connections


Predicting is an essential tool when developing as a strong reader. This story has been written to hook the young audience in engaging in predictable events.

Ask the following questions:

What do you predict this story will be about? Do you think it is about cat’s? Why?

What descriptions in the story lead you believe the girls were happy, not shy and playful?

What do you predict the girls like to eat?

Do you predict their mothers know what they are doing?


Reflecting throughout a book makes the story extra personal and come alive. It reflects a reader’s level of comprehension. A more thoughtful and complex reflection and connection reveal a higher understanding of the story. They also help reinforce one’s memory sequence which forms the basis of a retelling with more detail and reference to nuance. A simple and literal retelling reflects a more simplistic understanding.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

Do you think the girls are creative and if so why?

Have you ever creatively arrived at a plan that allowed you to realize a dream?

Have you ever seen buskers performing on the streets or attended a busking festival? Would you have the qualities needed to busk?

Why were the moms so upset?

Why didn’t the girls think they did anything wrong?

How upset were the moms? What did they do that might lead you to believe that they were forgiving and wanted to celebrate with the girls?

How did the mom’s find out where the girls were?

What is your favourite part of the story and why?


Making connections facilitates a deeper understanding of a story through making inferences, noting details and relating them to prior information. It is seeing, linking, and articulating other topics and events to the story. The reader is applying this reading experience to other learned information. Often when making connections the reader will arrive at exciting new insights that extend beyond the literal story.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

Why do the girls have the nicknames Happy Cat and Merry Cat?

Do you see any similarities in the illustrations? Which ones are similar, and in what way?

Can you show the pages of silhouettes and outline? Which type of illustration do you prefer and why (outline, silhouette or water colour)?

Do you think they had enough money for tea? Do you think the tea-shop owner was kind and, if so, why?

What qualities did the girls need to busk to raise money?

How can you tell the mother’s were not happy? Did they accept the girl’s apology?

What lessons did the girl’s learn?

Several pages have bold words or phrases. Choose one, two or all of them. What do they mean to you personally or as it relates to the story? Adults remember to be willing to share your answers in a casual way with the child or instead of the child answering. Make it a personal sharing not a grilling. How do these emphasize a part of the story?