The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2
  • Reading Level: Grade 1

There are lots of cats on Ben Yehuda Street, but it is the friendship between a little grey cat with a pink collar and a fluffy white stray cat that brings two lonely neighbors together.

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2013
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2014-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV030110, JUV039060, JUV002050
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 8.375 x 9
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler

Ann Redisch Stampler is the author of both picture books and Young Adult fiction. Her picture books include National Jewish Book Award Winner The Rooster Prince of Breslov, as well as The Wooden Sword, Go Home, Mrs. Beekman!, Ahlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost and Something for Nothing. She’s also the author of a young adult novel Where It Began. The Eastern European folktales that started her picture book career were beloved stories she heard from her immigrant grandmother. Born on the East Coast and raised mostly in the West, she lives in Los Angeles.

Illustrator: Francesca Carabelli

Francesca Carabelli lives and works in Rome, Italy. An illustrator of several books for major international publishers, her mother says she was born with a drawing pencil in hand.


  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable, Commended, 2014


Library Media Connection

“This very nicely illustrated story is an engaging tale about friendship and pets.” —Library Media Connection

Jewish Book World

“Who lives on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv? Lots and lots of cats! Mr. Modiano, the proprietor of the Tel Aviv Fish Palace isn’t a big fan of the furry critters. But Mrs. Spiegel, who lives next door to him in his apartment building, is crazy for them. The apartment building’s one-cat rule means she can only have one feline friend living with her; still, that doesn’t prevent a second cat from hanging around nearby. And while neighborly Mr. Modiano brings Mrs. Spiegel a fresh fish to eat every day, the constant presence of the two fluffy animals lead him to turn down her daily invitation for tea. ‘Lo, lo, lo,’ he says politely in Hebrew; no, no no. Then Mrs. Spiegel’s cat goes missing, and Mr. Modiano’s loyalty and friendship shine through. The story is quiet and simple—and utterly charming. The illustrations, equally charming, help give a nice window into everyday, urban Israeli life. A good read-aloud choice. Recommended for ages 3-8.” —Jewish Book World

School Library Journal

“A pleasing message about opening one’s heart (and door) to friendship.” —School Library Journal

The Jewish Chronicle

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street (Kar Ben, £5.99) are a nuisance, thinks Mr Modiano. He is forever shooing them away from the Tel Aviv Fish Palace. But his neighbour, Mrs Spiegel, loves cats. She is fond of Mr Modiano, too, but he always says ‘lo’ (no) when she invites him for tea. Then, one day, Mrs Spiegel’s own cat goes missing — and that changes everything. Ann Redisch Stampler’s story is simply but sweetly told, with colourful curvy cat illustrations by Francesca Carabelli.”—The Jewish Chronicle

Publishers Weekly

“[This story of] neighbors becoming friends takes place in contemporary Tel Aviv. There are shades of Cynthia Rylant’s Mr. Putter & Tabby books as fishmonger Mr. Modiano brings fish to Mrs. Spiegel every day, with instructions that it is for her, not for her cats, Ketzie and Gatito. She’s a cat lover; he is not. Every day, Mrs. Spiegel offers tea to Mr. Modiano, who declines. Then she feeds the fish to her cats. One day, Ketzie goes missing. The story unfolds with gentle humor and the suggestion of deeper feeling behind each scene. Carabelli (A Witch in a Fix) creates expressive humans and felines in scenes of daily life—in the hall of an apartment building, on the beach, in a cafe—using pastel colors to evoke Israel’s sun and sea, with splashes of primary colors on people’s clothes and lips. Mr. Modiano’s white hair and moustache practically have lives of their own, and the cats have extralong tails, whimsical details that emphasize character. The patterns, shading, and textures on each page offer additional visual interest in this light and charming tale.”—Publishers Weekly

AJL Newsletter

“Reader alert! This reviewer is very fond of cats; so, she was ready to like this book almost sight unseen. Luckily, this whimsical picture book is a delight. Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv is full of cats of every shape, size, and color but Mr. Modiano, a grumpy fishmonger, dislikes cats. However, Mrs. Spiegel, his neighbor in the apartment building, loves cats, especially her little grey cat with a pink collar. Mrs. Spiegel wants to be friends with Mr. Modiano, but he always says, ‘Lo, lo, lo,’ to every invitation for a cup of tea. One night, Mrs. Spiegel’s cat goes missing. Who saves the day? Mr. Modiano, of course! The book ends in a satisfying way that is sure to please children and adults alike. With its strong verbs and good humor, The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street presents a vibrant picture of life in present-day Israel. Carabelli’s illustrations in pen, color pencils, and watercolor capture the personalities of the characters, both human and feline, as well as the lively streets of Tel Aviv. Most good picture books can be read on different levels. The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street is about more than cats. It’s about friendship, helping each other, and taking a chance. Recommended for home and school libraries, and especially for cat lovers.”—AJL Newsletter

Kirkus Reviews

“A pleasant cat-loving elderly woman and her grumpy neighbor, a fishmonger who does not love the feline crowd, find friendship nonetheless.

Mr. Modiano’s fish market on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv is popular with stray cats looking for discards, despite the cold welcome. ‘Messy, meowing, useless cats!’ he complains. Each night he returns home to find Mrs. Spiegel’s two cats, Ketzie and Gatito, outside her door. Apartment-building rules dictate ‘Just One Cat,’ so Gatito sleeps in the hallway at night. Mr. Modiano complains, ‘Your cats bring more cats!’ She invites him for tea each night, and he always refuses: ‘Lo, lo, lo’ (no, no, no). The fishmonger and his neighbor continue this daily ritual until Ketzie disappears, leaving Mrs. Spiegel worried sick. Mr. Modiano, despite his ailurophobia, sets out to find the missing Ketzie and returns with a newfound willingness to not only share tea, but the care of little puss Gatito. The Israeli backdrop for this sweet scenario is enhanced by the diversity of the two characters, whose names hint at both Eastern European and Mediterranean heritage. Stampler’s charming narrative deftly employs the traditional motif of three while upholding a level of suspense. Carabelli’s sunny palette and energetic perspectives add zing.

In the end, readers will join in the smiles all around.”—Kirkus Reviews