Toto the Tornado Cat Visits Preschool Students
Posted On:
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Jonathan Hall & Toto
Jonathan Hall & Toto

Much to the delight of the East Street School preschoolers, the famous “Tornado Kitten” - Toto- recently jumped off the pages of his children’s book, and into their classrooms. Kerri Sullivan, East Street Preschool Teacher,  invited author Jonathan Hall and Toto to the school and, per his request, the preschool families collected donations of cat food and supplies for the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center in Springfield.

After a brief introduction, Hall read his book, Toto, the Tornado Kitten.  As students listened, they learned how this brave feline, was found in Brimfield, MA following the June 2, 2011 tornado;  cold, hungry and weighing only six ounces. The book also explained how Hall, a paramedic, met Toto when he was brought to the Brimfield Fire Department for medical care.  

Everyone was very happy to learn that the Animal Rescue League of Boston stepped in to nurse Toto back to health, when it was determined that his injuries required specialized care.  And although everyone knew the book’s ending, it was still a highlight when the book revealed the happily ever after ending that this special cat was eventually healthy, and stable enough, to be adopted and reunited with Hall and his wife, Amy.

When asked why he decided to write the book, Hall explained that his motivation was twofold, “I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and also I felt it would help to heal a community that had been so devastated by the tornado. Many people lost their homes and property;  loss and recovery are common themes in the book, and real life.”

Visiting schools with Toto is one of Hall’s favorite perks of being an author.  “I love to watch kids interact with Toto after they hear his story. They listen to many books being read to them but when they are able to meet the main character in person, it seems to resonate with them.”

“I also love going to schools and causing a little bit of chaos,” shared Hall, with a boyish smile.  “It’s not everyday a cute cat comes to school- everyone, especially the teachers, loves having Toto in the classroom.”

Another perk for Hall has been the opportunity to raise over $60,000 for local animal shelters, including the Animal Rescue League of Boston of Boston and the Thomas J. O'Connor shelter in Springfield.  Hall explained that he does not accept any money from the sales of his books or for any personal appearances.

“I initially was hoping to raise enough money to pay for the books and maybe $500 for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, who helped save Toto, but the project got way bigger than I ever thought,” shared Hall.  “I was presented with this amazing opportunity to make a difference in my community and ran with it.  And here we are, six  years later and  the project is still going strong!”

During his visit, Hall also read a second book, Oh Toto, Where Did You Go?, which chronicles Toto’s adventures since his rescue. “I’m pretty sure Toto has one more story to tell and maybe 2018 will be the year he gets to tell it,” said Hall.

Elaine Conway, East Street Preschool Teacher, shared that during their visit, Toto quietly sat on a chair beside Hall, even taking a brief nap. “Following the readings, Toto very calmly allowed each student to pet him, which was a special treat.”

“We thought it was important for our students to make the real-life connection,” shared Conway, “and what better way than to have Toto- a symbol of hope and love- pick up the donated supplies. Their visit truly made for a fun and meaningful day.”

Photos submitted by Preschool Staff


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