Come on in! It’s Summer Open House


Welcome to Frog on a Dime’s first ever Summer Open House! Relax. Kick off those sandy flip-flops, grab yourself a chilled beverage and enjoy.Summer Nick Taught His Cats-cover (1)

Today I’ll be takin’ it easy too because my feline friend Finn gleefully agreed to skip nap number seven to interview the author of this new cat-centric and summery picture book by debut author Curtis Manley. But first, let me proclaim . . .

I LOVE this book. I had the pleasure–the DELIGHT–to hear Curtis read his droll, charming, sweet, guffaw-worthy story at a retreat in June. This book has so many layers packed between its covers. On the surface, it’s about a book-loving boy and his cats. I mean, the title. There you have it. But it’s also about friendship and meeting people (or in this case, cats) where they are. It’s about opening someone’s world by sharing something you love. It’s about patience. It’s about the glories of imagination and storytelling. It’s about appreciating different learning styles, and yes, it’s about the summer Nick taught his cats to read. Quite a teacher, that Nick.

Enter for a chance to receive your own copy of THE SUMMER NICK TAUGHT HIS CATS TO READ! If you’re already a Frog on a Dime follower, simply leave a comment (OR question for Curtis) on my contact page by Noon (EST) on Sunday, July 31.

OR if you’re new to Frog on a Dime, you can register to become a follower (on the home page) and automatically be entered into a drawing exclusively for new followers. Winners will be announced at Noon on Monday, August 1.

Looks like my furry friend’s ready for you, Curtis . . . take it away, Finn!

cat book 2 (2)Finn says, “Welcome, Mr. M!”

Finn: Thank you for agreeing to talk with me, Mr. Manley. I have so many important things I want to know about you. 

So, for starters, what is your favorite day of the week?

Any day that a cat snuggles on my lap and purrs is a good day. I’m very lucky that that

CurtisManley-Sep2014 web2 (2)

Meet Curtis Manley

happens nearly every day!

You know what? I like you already. Let’s keep going.

If you were a cheese, what kind would you be? Why?

I would want to be any kind of cheese that mice don’t like. Because if I was a cheese that attracts mice, the mice would then attract cats—who would be tempted to jump on the mice (and me) with their claws out. Ouch!

You’d have no worries about me pouncing. I am rodent-intolerant. Ugh. The gas. The bloating. Why is Vicky looking at me like that?

Let’s see, next question:

What is under your bed?

Funny you should ask! Under the bed are boxes. Some of the boxes have things in them, and some are empty. There are just enough boxes to make it impossible for a cat to get under our bed. Why ever would we do such a cruel thing? I will tell you: When we adopted our current cat, Felix, from the shelter, he had already been adopted by two different families—and returned to the shelter by each of them because he hid all the time. So when we brought Felix into our home, we made sure that all the hiding places were where we could still see each other and get to know each other. It still took about a year for him to decide that he doesn’t need to be afraid of us.

So, is it time to let him get under the bed if that’s what he wants to do? Probably. And should we just happen to leave some crayons and drawing paper under there? Yes!

cat book 1

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

A few months after my wife and I were married years ago, we gave ourselves the gift of a cat adopted from a shelter near where we lived in California. He was a tuxedo cat who had been able to donate blood to save another cat’s life. He was the sweetest cat, moved with us around the country (CA to AZ to NC to WA), and never seemed upset or jealous when our (human) baby daughter appeared and took up much of our attention. He was with us for more than 12 years. We still miss him.

[Sniffle sniffle] No, those aren’t tears. I got a whisker in my eye. Look away. [Dab-dab with the end of the tail.]

Now, seeing as you are a human, what is your inner adult/inner child ratio?

I prefer to think of it as the inner child/inner adult ratio—because then when the ratio goes up it is a good thing! So: My inner child/inner adult ratio has increased over the past 10 years and is now probably something like 60/40. I suspect that as I write more children’s books the ratio will continue to go up…

I’m more of an NPR fan myself, but if you could make a guest appearance on a TV sit com, which one would it be–and why?

I’ve fallen out of the habit of watching TV, but—and no, this doesn’t date me at all—I could imagine myself as a guest on Gilligan’s Island… I could play either a geologist looking for evidence the island had been inundated in the past by a huge tsunami, or an author (like, for instance, Robert Louis Stevenson) hoping to live in a tropical paradise to regain his health. Personally, I’m in good health; thanks for asking!

Describe your sock drawer in three words or less.


If you hadn’t become a writer, what would you be? Please don’t say a dog groomer.

Well, I used to be a technical writer (not quite the same as a writer). Before that, I tested software. And before that, I was a volcanologist (no, that has nothing to do with pointy-eared aliens from the planet Vulcan) and got to explore volcanoes and lava flows in the middle of nowhere. One day in Idaho when I returned from a long hike I found that cows had made big smear marks on my pickup truck by licking off the dust. Cats would never do anything like that!

Felix DSC05932 (1)

Meet Mr. Manley’s friend, Felix

Speaking of cats, can your cat Felix read?

Felix  is showing some interest in reading, though right now it is only the words on the grocery sacks he loves to curl up on. Learning to read doesn’t happen overnight, so we will keep working with him!

Good luck with that.



For this next part, I’m going to throw words at you like little balls of yarn to see how you respond. Ready? Pounce . . .

Favorite punctuation mark:

I like ellipses (…) but I also like the em-dash (—). To state a preference would be unfair to each of them.

Favorite food or drink while writing:

I enjoy many kinds of tea—except Earl Grey. And I am not a coffee person (my apologies to those who are—but that’s probably not you, Finn…).

You’re right. Coffee is vile. I prefer tepid tap water from the bathroom faucet with one of my humans standing by to adjust the flow. But enough about my charming quirks.

Fantasy road trip destination:

I’d love to spend more time in the Four Corners area: colorful sandstone cliffs, twisty rivers, pueblo ruins, and petroglyphs. Alternative destination (though trying to drive there is a bad idea): Iceland.

Totally hypothetical question: do you think dogs could be taught to read? [giggling]

Of course you know the answer!

Of course. Are you sure you’re not part cat, Mr. Manley?

Finn — Thanks so much for interviewing me for Frog on a Dime! I had a lot of fun answering your questions! When you become famous for interviewing celebrities, I’ll get to boast that I was the first (interviewee, not celebrity)!

The honor was all mine, Mr. Manley. You made my first interview job so easy, but I’m still ready for nap number eight. Valentine Finn (2)


I hope everyone will enter to win a copy of Mr. Manley’s picture book. It definitely made it worth learning to read!


47 responses »

  1. Curtis, I also once adopted a cat named Felix who was afraid of people. I found him abandoned in a grocery store parking lot in Austin, Texas 3 days after Christmas, so I named him Felix Navidad. He moved from Texas to Michigan with us in 1999 and was in our family until he passed away 5 years ago. I never did teach him to read, but he was one good kitty. (Finny, you know ALL about being one good kitty. Thanks for taking time out of your napping schedule to do this interview!) And Vicky, thanks to you, too. Your insights and wit shared on Frog on a Dime keep all of us hopping!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam — It’s so nice you were able to rescue your Felix and give him a good home for so long!

      Our Felix is taking a nap in memory of your Felix right this moment. And unlike Nick in my story, I would never wake a napping cat for a reading lesson…

      Glad you enjoyed the interview!


  2. This blog post has way too much humor for me! Haha – JK. Can never get enough humor. My question is for Finn and Felix. When a cat walks with his/her tail held high and the tip is crooked just a bit (and sways as well), does this mean the cat is happy, balanced, or happily balanced? I’ve always wondered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Mrs. Anderson:

      Thank you for your insightful question. I can’t speak for Felix, but for me, when my tail is high and Mr. Tippy (that’s the end of my tail) is turned like a question mark, I’m feeling happy and asking my people–“Wanna play?” I try ask this several times a day, between naps, of course, to make sure my people take a break from whatever mundane human thing they’re doing. Playing chase and hide-and-seek are their favorites, so I oblige them. It’s fun to see their furless faces light up. Makes me giggle.

      I hope this has been helpful to you and your cat. Felix may have more insights to share.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Finn. Enjoy your day, and stay happy. And keep an eye on Vicky…someone has to!


    • Hi Rachel — Felix and I are happy that you enjoyed the interview!

      As to tails, Felix’s is a bit unusual, so the meaning of his tail positions may apply only to him… When Felix walks, his tail is curled up and over his back. When he is sitting or lying down, his tail behaves like the tails of other cats we have known. In all these positions, Felix is happy (at least he doesn’t usually seem to be annoyed with us!). Oh, and Felix is always well balanced!


  3. Finn, I think you may have a new career as an on-line celebrity! You deserve an extra nap today for bringing us your purrfect interview of Curtis!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Finn – You are an exceptional and amusing host! I enjoyed Mr. Manley’s answers and look forward to reading about Nick and his cats.
    Is the book dedicated to Felix the Donor because he sounds like a feline hero to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cathy — I’m glad you enjoyed the interview and hope you enjoy the book, too! The book is actually dedicated to my daughter, because it was her interest in reading that inspired the first version of the story that eventually became the book…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for starting my morning with a fun read, Vicky – I mean Finn! Only you could find an author who used to be a volcanologist! Congrats on your book, Curtis! And Vicky, I love the new look of your blog – perfect to use one of your beautiful collage creations.

    Liked by 1 person

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