Koko's Kitten (Reading Rainbow Books)

by Dr. Francine Patterson

Other authorsRonald H. Cohn (Photographer)
Paperback, 1987



Local notes

599 Pat




Scholastic (1987), Edition: Reissue, 32 pages


The real life experience of Koko, a gorilla in California who uses sign language, with a young kitten whom she loved and grieved over when it died.


Texas Bluebonnet Award (Nominee — 1988)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1988)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Informational Books — 1986)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 7.74 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
This story talks a little bit about Koko the gorilla in general, but focuses on her desire for a kitten and her relationship with her first kitten, All Ball. Koko wants a kitten very badly, and immediately falls in love with All Ball, a manx who loves Koko back. When All Ball dies, Koko is very
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lonely and wants a new kitten, and is greatful when she finally gets Lipstick, another manx.
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LibraryThing member sandiwilliams
"Koko's Kitten" is a true story about a gorilla who is taught how to use sign language. She is able to communicate her thoughts and feelings with humans. Her teacher Penny treats Koko as if she were her own child and even celebrates holidays with her. Penny asks Koko what she would like for her
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birthday and is told she wants a cat. Penny gets Koko a toy cat for Christmas, but the toy cat isn't good enough Koko wants a real live cat. A few months later Koko gets her very own live kitten to take care of and even carries him on her back like a baby gorilla.

I was very surprised when I read this book. I was expecting a boring book about gorillas since it is an informational book. However, this book has a very heartfelt story behind the information of Penny teaching Koko sign language and the development of gorillas. I loved this book because it made me feel the same feelings Koko was feeling and really pulled me into the story that was being told.
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LibraryThing member caitsm
A true story of the gorilla named Koko who was taught sign language and more than anything wanted a cat. His teacher is scared that Koko will harm any real cat, so she gives him a fake one for Christmas and Koko is devastated. After much sadness she decides to try and see how the a real cat and
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Koko would interact and finds that Koko is a loving animal owner. This is a wonderful touching story for kids of all ages!
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LibraryThing member techeditor
Koko is a gorilla; her kitten was “All Ball.” This is a true story, written for children. Who couldn’t love it?

Back in the 1970s Koko was born and soon thereafter was taught sign language. Yes, she really could speak with her keepers in this way. So, when they asked her what she wanted, she
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told them, “Cat.” They got her a tiny gray, tailless kitten.

The story of KOKO’s KITTEN by Francine Patterson tells of Koko’s early life and how she came to learn sign language. Then we learn about her request for a cat and her anger when her keepers gave her a pretend cat covered in velvet. Then we read about her gentleness and motherliness when she was given her real kitten. Koko chose the kitten, and Koko named him “All Ball.”

Throughout this children’s book are photographs, not just illustrations, by Ronald H. Cohn. This is what made me want to read the book. I loved it.

Koko is still alive, 40 years old, at the San Francisco Zoo. I wish I knew her story when I lived in southern California in the 1980s through 2005. I would have made the 3-hour drive to San Francisco just to see her. Maybe I’ll still get there before she dies. In the meantime, I can read the book for adults, THE EDUCATION OF KOKO.
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LibraryThing member mdonley
A great story of Koko the gorilla who is taught sign language. On her twelfth birthday she asks for and receives a kitten whom she names All Ball. She loves All Ball very much and takes care of her as she would her own baby. A really powerful true story of how animals have the ability to
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communicate on different levels, just like humans.
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LibraryThing member chrisblocker
I first read this book when I was about eight years old. Its tenderness touched me, changing my perception of the power of a book forever.
LibraryThing member nbmars
In 1972 Dr. Francine Patterson began to explore the question of whether a gorilla could learn to communicate through sign language. The story of how Penny won Koko’s trust and gradually began to teach her words is told in her first book, Koko’s Story. This book continues the story of Koko, who,
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as of the time of this book’s writing in 1986, had learned about 500 words, using over 100 different ones every day. [By the time of Koko’s death in 2018, Dr. Patterson reported that Koko had an active vocabulary of more than 1,000 signs, and understood approximately 2,000 words of spoken English.]

In this book, written in 1985, Dr. Patterson tells us about Koko’s pet kitten whom she named “All Ball.” Dr. Patterson writes: “It is a story in which Koko the gorilla tells us about herself in a language that expresses love, anger, sorrow, and joy.”

It was Koko herself who asked for a cat for her birthday present, and finally got a kitten.

Adorable photographs chronicle the growing relationship between Koko and All Ball. At one point, Dr. Patterson signed to Koko “Tell me a story about Ball.” Koko signed back, “Koko love Ball.”

One morning, All Ball got hit by a car and died instantly. Dr. Patterson explained to Koko that she would never see Ball again. Koko signed "Bad, sad, bad" and "Frown, cry, frown, sad, trouble.”

“‘Ten minutes later,’ she wrote, ‘I heard Koko cry. It was her distress call - a loud, long series of high-pitched hoots.’”

Finally, three months later, they found another kitten. Koko would not let go of it. “‘Baby,’ she signed. Koko was happy. Her new kitten had come to stay.”

Evaluation: This heart-warming story should convince doubters that primates aren’t as different from us as many believe.
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(46 ratings; 4.1)
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