The Tip Tap Dancing Cat joins the Association of Cats with Secret Lives

posted in: Joanna Boyle | 6

One of the irrefutable facts of life is that cats have secret lives.

There’s Slob Cat who actually spends his day being brave, energetic, and sometimes saving lives. There’s Lionel who paints portraits and drives sportscars when his owners aren’t looking. There’s Sid, who keeps his folk in the dark about just how many dinners he manages to get each night. Fang is a secret super hero cat, and Malcolm parties with the Queen of Cats. Joining this clowder are Fred (a popstar), Mr Tiddles (a genuine cat burglar), and most recently Oscar.

When Oscar’s owners go to work, he loves to dance, and what’s more, he’s really rather good at it. Name any style, and he can swing his hips, tap his toes and boogie the night away.

tiptapfrontcoverThe Tip-Tap Dancing Cat by Joanna Boyle (@J0anna12) is a lovely, free flowing celebration of the joy of dance, but instead of sparkled-up celebrities, it’s a cat that steals the show.

Twelve different dance styles are highlighted, with Oscar striking a quintessential pose to represent each. More of a beautifully illustrated non-fiction picture book (including a glossary in the final pages), than one with a traditional storyline, this is a sweet and simple introduction to everything from Swing to Samba, and Tango to Two-Step. Boyle’s illustrations are delightful; loose and lively, graceful and fluid, in fact everything you might hope for in a dancer!


I’d love to see this book being used in classrooms and homes to get kids up and moving, trying out the moves Oscar demonstrates. And if you want to get people on the dance floor, strutting their stuff, how about making a disco ball to set the scene?

This is exactly what we were inspired to try after reading The Tip-Tap Dancing Cat.

First we gathered together old, scratched CDs, and I softened them by holding them in boiling water for about 45 seconds.


Next I cut the CDs into small squares with sides of about 1.5cm. I used my strongest pair of scissors for this, and did the cutting whilst the CDs were still warm from their dipping.


I found that some CDs cut much more easily (ie without shattering) than others – I guess this might depend on the sort of backing they have. To allow for the fact that some CDs might shatter, even though you’ve softened them, make sure you’ve got a few more CDs than you think you’ll need to complete the disco ball.


Every day over the course of a week M, J and I stuck a few CD squares onto an old rubber ball. We used regular tacky glue, and just took our time building up the mosaic of squares so that each few had time to dry before we rotated our sphere to add more squares. Finally we hung the ball up, shone a light on it and started it spinning!

(Yes, not very dancey music in the video, but it does reflect the magic of having these little squares of reflected light fill our kitchen!)

Finally it was time to put on some real dancing music and have a ball:


We danced to:

  • Dancing with My Daddy by Kira Willey (a samba)
  • Please don’t Polka the Baby by The Mudcakes (a polka, surprise surprise)
  • Tweet Me Right (The Cairo Tango) by Raffi (you can guess what style of music this is….)

  • Other activities to go with reading The Tip-Tap Dancing Cat include:

  • Losing hours to watching clips of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers Gene Kelly and other greats on YouTube. There’s a 2.5 hour long playlist here, or for just 3 minutes of dancing deliciousness try this:
  • Making rosettes! Oscar the cat wins rosettes for his fabulous dancing and you could make some to award to each other. Dad Can Do has a great tutorial with free printables.
  • Creating your own top hat to dance with. In one scene Oscar looks extremely dapper, dancing with a top hat and walking stick. Instructables has a top hat tutorial and if ever there’s been a good excuse to visit this favourite (non-book) shop of mine in London, perhaps this book is it!

  • I haven’t yet read The Dancing Cats of Applesap by Janet Taylor Lisle but it sounds like the perfect follow on read to The Tip-Tap Dancing Cat. Have you any other books about dancing cats or cats’ secret lives to recommend?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Tip-Tap Dancing Cat from the publishers.

    6 Responses

      • Zoe

        hi Natasha, as far as I know there aren’t any more yet – but maybe there will be in the future if this book does well!

    1. linda sarah

      Just beautiful, brilliant and totally inspiring – thank you 🙂 And I love the glitterball film…esp.the music! You and your fellow artists never cease to amaze me!
      linda sarah recently posted..Donkey’s wings

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