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Home » Books » Children's » Fiction » Social Situations » Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance

Milli Jack and the Dancing Cat

By Stephen Michael King

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Format: Paperback, 32 pages
Published In: Australia, 01 June 2005
Milli could take a thing that was a nothing and turn it into a something. She could find any old forgotten this or that, give it a bit of a wiggle, and transform it into something amazing. But no one in her town valued what Milli could do, and she was far too shy to insist. No one ever wanted anything special. So Milli spent her time making brown shoes, black shoes and plain old work boots.But then comes the day two vagabonds roll into town - crazy Jack and his dancing cat. Sturdy new boots are exactly what they need, but what can they give Milli in exchange? Dancing lessons! So they teach her jazz and ballet and tap. They do the two-step, the three-step and the tricky-twisting-backward-slide-four-step. And Milli begins to feel brave and free. So she makes them the most beautiful shoes she can imagine. She rustles up a few amazing things for herself, too. And eventually even the townspeople have to take notice.

About the Author

Stephen Michael King has always drawn pictures. At primary school he was a misfit - quiet, solitary, escaping into the world of his imagination, isolated by a hearing problem that went undiagnosed for many years. Now he has found his place as a popular picture-book illustrator, with books translated into many languages.


Featuring a small gaggle of eccentric characters, this Australian picture book offers large giggles over its breezy watercolor illustrations of loopy, Seussian contraptions. "Milli could take a thing that was a nothing... and make it... a something!" Never brave enough to show her ingenious creations to other people, Milli resigns herself to making plain brown shoes in her shoe shop. Then one day she meets two wandering minstrels, Jack and Cat, who show her how to abandon her inner censor and dance. Not only do they teach her the two-step, but the three of them do "the tricky twisting backward-sliding four-step," and King's (Emily Loves to Bounce) lighthearted interior and jacket illustrations feature them cheerfully dancing in sunshine and rain with the style and verve associated with a 1950s musical. Dancing makes Milli "feel brave and free" enough to show her marvelous inventions to the world. King takes a flight of fancy with his visual depictions of what Milli invents, such as the crazy tuba-like instrument she fashions out of a telephone, lead pipes and a huge plastic flower, or the amazing cart she devises for Jack and Cat. Milli is initially worried about how the townsfolk will react to her art, but her fears, fortunately, prove unfounded. The barely disguised self-help theme doesn't dent this book's joie de vivre, which is likely to delight readers who share any of Milli's artistic leanings. Ages 4-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

The characters, brilliantly illustrated, jump out of the pages. A hardcover treasure for the kids; a delight to read aloud.' Sunshine Coast Daily Good LivingKing's little people are carefree and winsome.' ABRNov 2003a magical, delightful story of being honest with yourself.' Bendigo Advertiser18/10/03

PreS-Gr 3-Milli has a special gift for seeing the artful potential in ordinary, forgotten objects. She loves to "take a straight piece of wire and give it a wiggle, or a simple square of cloth and set it dancing in the wind." However, her talents are hidden as she spends her days making plain, brown shoes for the other townspeople who only want sensible things. When two traveling minstrels, Jack and the Dancing Cat, come into the woman's shop, they offer her dancing lessons in exchange for new boots. Moving her body to the "two-step," the "three-step," and the "tricky twisting backward-sliding four-step" makes Milli feel "brave and free" and gives her the courage to release her creativity. Soon she is making "curly-toed shoes covered in stars" and livening up the neighborhood with musical instruments that make "sounds that had never been heard before." King's sprightly ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the magic of Milli's creations. A charming story that celebrates imagination and individuality.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

EAN: 9781865087474
ISBN: 1865087475
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Children's Books
Dimensions: 25 x 24 centimetres (0.11 kg)
Age Range: 5-9 years
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4 review(s)
All Reviews
Louisa on
When I grow up I want to be Milli. Im now 37 and on days when I forget what my dreams are, I turn to this enchanting yet exciting and musical book to remind me of the freedom of my imagination. Its an essential book for any child or adult. One day, soon I hope, I will follow the Philosophy of Milli.
Customer on
My 3 year old and I love this book and I have been reading it to him since he was 2 and a half. I think it is intended for older children, but if you have a particularly bookish child who loves language and interesting illustrations and will sit through a longer book I would start reading it because it is so lovely.It is a beautiful and inspiring book about living creatively with passion and colour and fulfilling your dreams. It isn't like a lot of other children books and that is why I love it and think it has a place in everyones collection! (And it's always nice to have a book that also encourages re-cycling) I have since discovered another of his books called 'Leaf' which is great in a completely different way. (Contains illustrations only... watch your childrens imagination ignite as they tell the story themself)
judy on
Love this book for my granddaughter 5 yrs old. A very simple but funny book that kids can enjoy.Bought it after my grandsons (7 & 5) loved the book and also went along to see the stage production of it.
Nicola on
As a kindergarten teacher, I found this book quite difficult to read and hold the attention of a group of four and five year olds. The book is a beautiful book and the story line is inspiring, but it went over the heads of my group. I would recommend this book for six year olds and over.

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