Bathe the Cat

A photo of the book cover for Bathe the Cat
Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty


Bathe the Cat is an absolute treasure of a book. It follows a family of two dads, their three kids, and a very mischievous cat, who does NOT want to take a bath. The family is trying to tidy up before Grandma visits, but whenever Daddy gets organized and assigns the cleaning tasks to everyone, the cat sneakily sabotages his plans and total chaos ensues. The illustrations by David Roberts, who is known for illustrating the Questioneer series (Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck, Ada Twist, etc.), are perfectly expressive and detailed. They add so much character and physical comedy to an already fun story.

Let me just say, my 4 year old is a highly opinionated child who is especially particular about books. In fact, most picture books do not meet his highly rigorous and completely arbitrary standards, which is why I rarely buy books these days and opt for library visits instead. However, after reading the reviews of this book, I bought it without a second thought, and sure enough, it was a HIT. I don’t think a picture book has ever made my son laugh so hard, and he loves it so much that for weeks, he insisted on immediately showing it to anyone that entered our house, which is the highest of praise coming from him.

Discussion Questions
  1. Before reading: Look at the cover. What do you think this book will be about? How does the picture on the cover make you feel? Do you think this book is going to be funny, sad, scary, silly, exciting, sweet, etc.?
  2. While reading: Why do you think the cat keeps changing the words on the refrigerator? Do you think they’ll be able to clean the house before Grandma Marge arrives?
  3. How do you think the cat feels throughout the story? How does the cat feel at the end of the story?
Lesson Ideas

Identifying Emotions

I recommend reading this book multiple times with your child/class. During the first read-through, focus on summarizing/retelling the story so that they have a strong understanding of the story’s plot. Make sure they understand why the characters are getting so mixed up with their cleaning tasks (it’s because the cat is rearranging the instructions on the refrigerator). During the second reading, you can start focusing more on the other elements of the story, such as characters’ feelings and motivations. Throughout the story, the characters experience a wide range of emotions. As you read the story, help your child/students name the emotions that they notice from the characters’ facial expressions. Try using some of the following emotions for younger children (3-5 years):

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Worried/Nervous
  • Excited
  • Frustrated
  • Confused
  • Mad/Angry

Older children (6+) can also try to identify when characters feel:

  • Mischievous
  • Relieved
  • Annoyed/Irritated
  • Perplexed
  • Pleased
  • Determined
  • Peaceful
  • Suspicious

Teachers: if you are able to access this book digitally, try this whole-group activity the second or third time you read it with your class*:

  • Write each emotion on a notecard.
  • Project the book pages on the whiteboard as you read, and ask students to come up and stick the appropriate emotion card next to the character’s face that is showing the emotion. (There may be multiple emotions for some characters).
  • After the whole-group activity, pair students up and give them each a card with an emotion on it. Have them think of a time when they felt that emotion, then share with their partners. If there’s extra time, they can also try to think of another story that they’ve read in which a character felt that same emotion.

*NOTE: I prefer to suggest ideas and a general framework for lessons rather than write specific lesson plans, because you know your class/child better than anyone. If your class is already very familiar with the meanings and nuance of many emotions, you can use this as an opportunity for them to practice identifying all of them. However, if identifying emotions is a newer skill for your kids, try choosing just a few of these emotions to focus on so that they are not overwhelmed with all the new vocabulary.

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