There was a book launch at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Belize Vinai Thummalapally and Mrs. Barbara Thummalapally this morning. The launch of the book, “Pat the Great Cat, A Jaguar’s Journey” is apart of a literacy campaign. This morning’s book launch and literacy campaign started with Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow and CEO in the Ministry of Education Mr. David Leacock reading excerpts from the book to school children.

Kim Simplis Barrow
We didn’t need milk and more, our mother had taught us to hunt all kinds of animals, like mice and young iguanas. Why should I wait to eat until she returns when I could hunt for my own food? I left my sleeping sister and left silently out of the den. I sniffed the air, hoping to catch the scent of something to eat, but there was nothing.

The book tells the true story of a jaguar called Pat the Cat, a “problem” jaguar from Honey Camp Lagoon, Belize, who was moved from Belize to Milwaukee. Mrs. Barbara Thummalapally was one of the key persons behind the initiative when it got started in November of last year.

Mrs. Barbara Thummalapally
The story is about a wonderful Belizean cat who went from Belize to the Milwaukee Zoo and the story is all brought together by Nancy Kennedy who took it to Mrs. Marlene’s camp here and together with some educators, we put the whole book together and the idea of the project. It is actually a three phase project; the first part happened already and the second part is finished, where Nancy and some other educators, especially people from the Belize Zoo went out into the Belize schools and in the Milwaukee schools and they told the simple story of "Pat the Great Cat" and the students loved it and they were happy to respond. Since the literacy event, they had to respond to the teachers with their writings and their drawings and their inspirations of all kinds and Nancy went through all of those and put them together and that’s what you will find in the book.

The project was designed by the non-profit organization SHARP Literacy, Inc. and is a three part initiative; the first and second part having been completed already. The third aspect is the development of a curriculum. CEO in Ministry of Education is David Leacock.

David Leacook, CEO, Ministry of Education

We in the Ministry are excited to participate because we have a literacy program of our own in the Ministry that since 2008 we have been gradually expanding to more and more schools. We see literacy as very key to further educational development of children and so we recognize the importance of investing in early literacy.

This morning’s event ended with a rendition of Pat the Great Cat Song by the children’s choir of Belmopan. The book is not yet available in Belize. However, those interested in obtaining a copy can do so at