At first glance, Martha Williams’ new children’s book is the story of a rambunctious tabby and white kitten that gets into anything and everything.
But Williams, who writes the Church Notebook column for the Triplicate, said she wanted the illustrated story of how Jake came into her life to be a cautionary tale for parents as well.
“I got to thinking, you know what, it wouldn’t hurt to write a story to remind people that if you’re going to get a puppy or a kitten, make sure you can have it where you live because some places won’t allow it,” Williams said, adding that Jake’s first owner had to rehome him because she was unable to keep a cat in her apartment. “I thought, why not make a story that would be fun for kids, but a reminder to parents and older folks to make sure you know it’s going to be alright to have that little animal where you are living. So many times people just aren’t responsible when they get animals.”
Williams’ book “Stop, Jake, Stop!!” was published Oct. 19 and is illustrated by Del Norte High School student Mackenzie Webb.
Williams came to Crescent City from New York, falling in love with the redwoods, the ocean and the people she met in Del Norte County.
Even though Jake was just a youngster when he came to Williams, at 8 years old, he’s now 18 inches tall and weighs 23 pounds. Williams said she thinks he’s part savanna cat, a hybrid of an African serval and a domestic house cat.
Williams said she learned how crazy Jake can be right after he moved in with her. When her grandson would shut Jake out of the computer room to get a little peace and quiet, the cat figured out how to open doors, Williams said. Thanks to his size he can fill up a priority mail box, she said.
“Character and a half!” Williams exclaimed. “I swear he knows just exactly what I say to him.”
With her story written, Williams needed an illustrator, so she called Del Norte High School and spoke with the art teacher and met with Webb.
“It’s a so-so story, but her pictures make the book,” Williams said. “The cat, even the mouse and the birds have expressions on their face.”
Webb is a junior at Del Norte High School and a freshman at College of the Redwoods and learned from local artist Gracia Molloy. When Webb graduates from high school, she said she plans to pursue a career in film and business. Webb said illustrating Williams’ book is her first professional project.
Inspired by Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and Walt Disney, Webb said Williams gave her pictures of Jake as well as a copy of her story and she envisioned the illustrations she would create. Webb said she also got inspiration from her own cat, Miku.
“I’m on a journey to find my own art style and so far it’s progressing,” Webb said. “I did something not many high schoolers do. It’s an incredible journey.”
“Stop, Jake, Stop!!” was published by XLibris and is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.