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Rigatoni the Pasta Cat

Michael Rosen, Illus. Tony Ross
Andersen Press
Age 5-8

Rigatoni is a cat who loves pasta. Luckily Ruth and Tina (his owners) ensure he has pasta in some form or other every day. Everything changes though when Ruth and Tina go away for a while and their friend George takes over. Rigatoni is appalled to find he is given tins of ‘Good Mews’ to eat –edible, but definitely not as delicious as pasta. Rigatoni has a problem, eventually he ventures out in search of a solution.

This is an engaging, satisfying story with patterned language perfect for reading aloud.   It is one of a series by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Tony Ross which are just right for newly independent readers. When you have read the story aloud to your child you could encourage them to try reading it again to themselves.

NB There is an important health warning before the story starts from the author ‘Please do not feed your cats pasta, it is only for cats in stories.’


Share the story

Read aloud
Read the story aloud to your child, perhaps a chapter a day. When you get to the part where Rigatoni is feeling very despondent about only being given pasta talk about what your child would like to happen next.

Encourage children to join in with Rigatoni’s cry of ‘Pastaaaaa!’

Talk about the book
Talk about different types of pasta and enjoy saying the names together, the words roll off the tongue.
Talk about Rigatoni’s feelings – at different points in the story.
Share your favourite scene in the story.  

Rigatoni the pasta cat

My seven year old is an independent reader but working on developing reading stamina. Shorter chapter books with engaging illustrations suit her perfectly and this is a great example. Michael Rosen’s prose is a great mix of easy read and challenging names and vocabulary wrapped up in his signature witty style. I have enjoyed Tony Ross’s work since an early essay back in University  where I had to study his illustrations, and he perfectly captures the cats movements and expressions throughout the story. The book is the right mix of text and images so that no one page is too daunting.

As a cat owner and a pasta lover, she bought into the idea of the book straight away with The cat lives with two female owners whose relationship is not clarified, leaving readers to decide for themselves, and for children like my daughter with two mums, to see the representation missing from many books aimed at her age.

She had a really go at working out the different pasta names whilst reading and then working out which ones we had in our kitchen. We also looked at the varieties in a supermarket and discussed which ones we had eaten and which ones Rigatoni would like to eat.  We did have a go at trying to get our cat to try some pasta but were unsuccessful and definitely do not have a pasta cat. Lizzie enjoys cooking and helping prepare dinner and one of her favourites is a simple pesto fusilli which she wanted to make again after reading this.


We got out all our different types of pasta to try some Halloween craft activities. The craft activities were great fun, using the different types of pasta to create different parts of a skeleton for Halloween and spotting which ones matched different bones. We tried and learn some of the names and talk about which meals we had eaten with each pasta.


The story is original and interesting with enough challenge for developing readers whilst keeping the length. Even months after reading it, it has stayed in her memory and is brought up when we visit Italian restaurants or see a new type of pasta or our cat trues to steal ‘human’ food.

An engaging and delightful story that we all enjoyed.


Things to make and do

Be a performer
The first chapter in particular reads like a poem and would be great fun to perform. Perform the opening pages of the first chapter together, by for example taking turns reading each line or phrase.

Cook some pasta
Make a pasta recipe with your child.  Here is one example: Cooking with kids: Spaghetti & meatballs with hidden veg sauce recipe | BBC Good Food

Make a pasta picture
You will need dry pasta, PVA glue and a piece of card. If you happen to have more than one type of pasta that would give even more opportunities for different designs. Perhaps your child might like to make a picture of Rigatoni the pasta cat – out of pasta!

Make a story map
On a big piece of paper help your child draw a map showing the places Rigatoni goes to on his adventures – from his home with Ruth and Tina, along the fence, to the Powell house, Antonio’s house and Paolo and Pieta’s Pasta Place.

Make a list
Make a list of all the different types of pasta you can think of. When you go to the supermarket look at the pasta section – can you see any more to add to your list?

Find out More

Find out about Michael Rosen
Watch Michael Rosen in conversation with Nikki Gamble about Rigatoni the Pasta Cat. An evening with Michael Rosen – YouTube

Read more books in this series for newly independent readers by Michael Rosen and Tony Ross.
Titles include:
Don’t Forget Tiggs!
Bilal’s Brilliant Bee
Barking for Bagels
Hampstead the Hamster

Visit Michael Rosen’s YouTube channel Kids’ Poems and Stories With Michael Rosen – YouTube
Visit Michael Rosen’s website Michael Rosen | Official Website

See activity pages for other books by Michael Rosen on the Lovemybooks website Uncle Gobb
And for younger children
A Great Big Cuddle
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Find out about Tony Ross
Tony Ross is a writer and illustrator books he has written and illustrated include:
Little Princess series
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Stone Soup

Find out what cats should really eat and other information about looking after them

Find out how pasta is made