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Jenny Goes to Sea

story & pictures by Esther Averill

The New York Review Children's Connection

There aren't too many sweeter children's stories about shipboard life than Jenny Goes to Sea. Jenny Linsky, a little black cat who always wears a red scarf when she goes out, with her two brothers, Checkers and Edward, learns that their master is going to sea and is planning to take them along. So on the day of departure, they say goodbye to all their friends in the club led by The President. Even Pickles, the fire cat who works for the New York City Fire Department, honors them with his presence. He's going to miss Jenny, and you get the sense there is a special regard for her here.

The three cats are taken aboard in baskets and learn that they have landed aboard a freighter that is going around the world. After a day of finding their sealegs, they are allowed to roam the ship in the company of Jack Tar, the adventurous ship's cat. Jack being in the employ of the freighter, knows his way around, not only onboard but also in ports of call. The three voyagers decide not to go ashore in the first port of Capetown. But when Jack comes back smelling of lobster dinner, they vow never to pass by the local delicacies again.

So in the next port, they follow Jack gingerly down the gangplank to sample the exotic local delicacies. They eat in a hotel, they meet very nice people and exotic cats. In fact, they meet Abyssinian, Burmese and Siamese cousins, learn local customs, and sample local treats. They weather a terrible storm, and take on cargo for delivery to distant shores.

In one port, one of the brothers decides to jump ship. But the others won't leave without him. So Jenny bravely stands on the gangplank and refuses to budge until the brothers return with Jack. The people applaud Jenny's bravery and welcome the cats into their company. As they re-enter New York Harbor on their final leg, planning Jack's visit in their escort, a fire boat comes alongside to welcome their ship into the harbor. And there is Pickles to welcome Jenny home. At first Pickles is jealous of Jack, but when Jenny explains that Jack is the ship's cat who helps run the Sea Queen much like Pickles helps run the fire department, Pickles understands and welcomes Jack to New York. And Jenny finally feels that she is home.

Children will find Jenny's lessons about behavior and emotions helpful and reassuring.

I'll be reading this one again.

Also by Esther Averill



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