Illustrated by Ailie Busby
Schwartz & Wade, 2010
$16.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages
When Kindergarteners find a tabby in their classroom, they think she's as cute as a raggedy doll but assume she could never be as smart as them until the cat shows everyone how clever she is.
The teacher is the first to spot the cat curled up by a broom, and right away the children want to name her, "Tinker Toy," and call out to her all at once to sit by them during reading circle.
As Tinker Toy snuggles in with Mikaela on her carpet square, the kids point out all the things they think the cat can't do -- including read and add two plus two. Then one boy suggests cats are better at sleeping or chasing their tails.
But their teacher, a smiley woman with bouncy blonde hair, tells them that anyone can learn if they're just given a chance, and begins to draw a picture on the dry erase board, then asks if they knows what animal it is.
Before any of the children can answer, Tinker purrs out a rhyme that has everyone staring at her in surprise.
"Why, little Tinker Toy," / Teacher said, "she's a whiz! / She's a Thinker Tinker Toy / Kind of cat, she is."
Lewis's rhyming read-aloud will having little readers wishing with all their might for a stray to slip into class overnight.