Tag Archive: Una Gata Muy Inteligente


“We had a room with some books but nobody ever went in there.” This is a quote from Alan Cohen, P.S. 69’s principal. Imagine being a student in NYC and not having access to a proper library? Many students in low income communities face this issue daily. Rooms that are dedicated to being libraries, are often  found bare and deserted due to low or no funding and lack of materials- mainly books. With the economy tumbling and still uncertain, many budgets for NYC public schools have put Libraries at the bottom of the list. It seems there just isn’t enough money to support a program that is so essential to students.

There may be hope! A foundation known as the Robin Hood Foundation is looking to change the direction and image of many poverty stricken NYC public schools. The foundation over the past nine years has been:

 “dedicated to fighting poverty in New York City, and the city’s schools administration have built, with the help of private donors, libraries in 62 schools in low-income neighborhoods.”

The Foundation has had such success that many of the libraries that have been built in these schools have been adorned by murals from famous artists. These libraries and pictures have transformed schools that once seemed headed in a one way direction with the students having no choice but to follow the same dooming direction.

Another example of this transformation is Public School 47, located in the Soundview section of the Bronx. The school is in need of space. So much so that the gym has been transformed into classrooms and administrative offices have been created from bathrooms. Yet with the help of the Robin Hood Foundation, the school now seems to have a promising future- thanks to the addition of the new library located on the second floor. The room is described as expanding in a somewhat magical way. Above all, the new library (home to roughly 7,000 books) is the first “proper” library that the school has had in many years. All thanks to the Robin Hood Foundation.

Please visit their site to learn more information about how their program works and how their efforts have helped to keep literature within the NYC public school system. Foundations such as this one and books such as A Very Smart Cat/ Una Gata Muy Inteligente, My Brain Won’t Float Away/ Mi Cerebro no Va a Salir Flotando, and A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z) aim to improve and inspire reading among young students and children.

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The Very Smart Cat continues to work on her book (with help from Mario Picayo). She has been busy going around Catskill asking local businesses to advertise. She has had roughly 18 businesses decide to advertise (so far). This project, inspired by Mario’s daughter, Cristina Friedman-PIcayo, gives a more realistic feeling. As you will discover when you read this funny piece of children’s literature, there are three pages dedicated to classifieds (one ad that even puts the Very Smart Cat up for adoption- free!).

Besides making the book realistic, the concept behind this project is as follows: “The “ads” will be a permanent part of the book, so your “ad” will be seen locally, nationally and internationally for years to come!” Mario, his wife Carla, and Cristina went to local businesses in the Catskill area and asked if they would be interested in being a part of Catskill literary history by having an “ad” in the newest children’s book from Campanita Books titled A Very Smart Cat/ Una gata muy inteligente. The outcome was what we hoped. 

Mario is currently working with illustrator Yolanda V. Fondura to have the businesses ad’s inserted into the classifieds. When you read the book and see these ads, it will be as though you were looking at a real classified section. People will see that the very smart cat is is based on real life, They can even visit the businesses that are advertised in the book. This is where the book becomes interactive.

Besides the book being based on a real cat, that was rescued by animal lover Cristina and besides the fact that the farm is real, people will have the ability to visit many of the stores that the cat and Cristina have visited. Some of the stores that have decided to advertise in the book are located in Woodstock and Saugerties, NY. That is how successful this project was.

We’ll keep you updated (we are currently working on promoting the well being of cats around the nation with this book). June is national Adopt a Cat month. This book hopes to make people more aware of cats, the need to respect them, and to have fun while reading a wonderful book.

Just how real does the picture from the book look like the actual farm, Willow Bark Farms?

And don’t forget about the Very Smart Cat…