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The Scaredy-Cat

Don't you love Twitter sometimes? That moment when a simple tweet sparks your imagination and inspires you to take action - whether that be writing a poem, drawing a picture or prompting you to challenge the way you think about everyday things.

Well, this happened to me two nights ago. The brilliant poet and illustrator Colin West posted an an illustration of a scaredy-cat. I loved the image's raw and simple brilliance; I had never seen a cat look so spooked.

I'd always thought of humans as the scaredy-cats but never the cats themselves. The phrase obviously comes from somewhere but I've not met many cats that are actually scared of anything; quite the opposite. Colin's linear drawing made me reimagine what a scaredy-cat actually is ....

The Scaredy-Cat

He’s known around as Scaredy-Cat

He’s scared of this, he’s scared of that

He’s scared of birds, he’s scared of mice

He’s scared of fish, he’s scared of lice

He’s scared of tails, full of fur

He’s scared of throats, full of purr

He’s scared of fangs, full of gnaws

He’s scared of paws, full of claws

He’s scared of yowls, under moons

He’s scared of Tom, in cartoons

He’s scared of hiss in his howl

He’s scared of spit in his growl

So Scaredy-Cat, hides under cars

and scaredy-cars, hide under stars

and scaredy-stars hide in the sky

and scaredy-skies, hide way up high

So if you spy The Scaredy-Cat

Afraid of this, afraid of that

Beneath the cars and stars and sky

Don’t point and laugh or pass him by

Just tempt him out with things he loves

Not fish below or birds above

The Scaredy-Cat loves bubble baths

And naughty dogs who make him laugh

So bathe him, paint his claws bright red

Then tie a bow upon his head

Arrange a date: a handsome Pug

Watch Scaredy-Cat walk tall, strut smug

He may not like what most cats do

He’s different, just like me, like you

The Scaredy-Cat feels proud and sure

He’s found his courage; scared no more

Scaredy-Cat by Colin West

Teaching Ideas: Write a poem about an animal and list all the things it shouldn't or wouldn't be afraid of. The challenge is to make the animal be happier, regardless of it not fitting in with the expectations. Use Colin's illustration to inspire your own image of your chosen animal looking afraid of being itself!

It could be a good starting point to discuss the danger of #stereotypes with younger children.

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