Inga Moore’s picture book classic tells of a hungry cat who has devised a clever way to wangle not just one tasty dinner each night, but six…

You have to hand it to Sid. He’s the cat’s whiskers when it comes to pulling the wool over the eyes of residents at numbers one to six Aristotle Street. Each thinks Sid is their beloved cat and theirs alone, and each night they duly dish out a delicious feline dinner. Chicken, fish, lamb, mince, fish again, beef and kidney stew – that’s the kind of six-course, protein-loaded banquet Sid has come to expect. Roaming from house to house for his nightly feast, Sid duly cleans up each dish in turn, and by the last, his tummy is looking rather distended and he’s stifling a burp behind a paw.

How does Sid manage to pull off such a sneaky stunt day-in, day-out? The Aristotle Street lot, it turns out, aren’t a terribly neighbourly lot, liking to keep to themselves. And Sid has them dancing to his merry tune.

In a comic street scene, a neighbour stoops to tickle Sid behind the ear, while several more pairs of eyes shoot daggers as if to say: “What’s he doing stroking my cat?!?” And as for the cat in question? Sid is serene, saucer-eyed and sweetly smiling

Using her trademark palette of muted colours, Inga Moore paints a picture of this leafy, sleepy street where six unsuspecting individuals live separate lives, oblivious to the slinking, black cat whose mealtime tactics link them all together.

Inga Moore has a talent for capturing the movements and expressions of animals and here, we have a consummate feline performer, with a repertoire of perfect poses. Sid is, indeed, a master of disguise, assuming a different identity for each of his six different homes. At one home, he is Scaramouche and must put on swanky airs – cue much posturing and paw-licking. In another, he plays the role of Bob the mouse-catcher, eyeballing his prey in front of a mouse-hole.

It’s all going swimmingly, until Sid catches a cough. The local vet suspects something is afoot when Sid arrives at his office not once, but six times – each time with a different ‘owner’. Are Sid’s days of dining out over? Will this clever cat be bested by his band of disgruntled owners? Not a bit of it!

See Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, talk about this book in her round-up of great children’s books at London’s 2012 Book Fair (main image above, simply click on the arrow to watch). 

Author Notes Born in Sussex, England, illustrator and author Inga Moore moved to Australia at the age of eight, returning to London as an adult. Animals and landscapes are two favourite subjects, and she is renown for her richly-detailed style and intricate textural variationsHer process of illustration involves photocopying her original drawings, then working on these with a mix of crayon, ink, pastel, pencil, watercolour, even oil paint. She has written and illustrated dozens of children’s books including Six Dinner Sid which has won various children’s book awards including the Smarties Award in 1990, its sequel Six Dinner Sid: A Highland Adventure and A House In The Woods. Moore has also illustrated several children’s classics, including The Wind In The Willows, The Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables.  

FUN FACT According to research at the University of Sussex, many cats manipulate their owners into feeding them with a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry that has similarities to human infant cries, subtly taking advantage of humans’ sensitivity to nurturing offspring.