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The Book Cat

By Polly Faber and illustrated by Clara Vulliamy
Reviewed by Sarah Custance
British author Polly Faber is an author of both picture books and early readers novels. She writes about cats, horses, dogs, rabbits, buildings, and even tapirs! One of her early reader series called Mango and Bambang, about a young girl and her friendly tapir friend was also illustrated by Clara Vulliamy along with a picture book collaboration that the two undertook. The Book Cat is this duo’s 6th book together.
In the September of 1940 the first of the enemy bombers arrived in London, at the same time so did a young kitten named Morgan, born on top of a felt hat and a copy of the Evening News. As Morgan grows up during the war he faces many hardships, including losing both his mother and sister, but he is determined to live on for them and has always retained a strange affinity to the written that he attributes to memories of his family curled up together on their newspaper.
In search of food and safety, crafty Morgan soon finds himself a job at a famous London publishing house as the ‘Resident Mouser and Door Cat’. Through his position Morgan accepts and encourages kind authors as they step through the publishing house doors and discourages those that are mean and unkind. As he settles into being the first Book Cat, new bomb worries give Morgan an idea as to how to give the stray kittens of London a chance at a happy life… by teaching the kittens the ways of being a Book Cat and pairing them up with specific authors, for every good author needs a Book Cat.
The Book Cat is a marvellously written story that is sad, funny, uplifting, and just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever read. Semi based on some real-life events, Faber does a wonderful job in mixing reality and fiction into a glorious story that both cat and book lovers will find utterly charming.
Clara Vulliamy’s black, white, and orange illustrations throughout the book help add to the charm and funny playfulness that this book emits through every page. Fans of Faber and Vulliamy’s previous work together on Mango and Bambang will not be disappointed in this latest collaboration and anyone new to Faber’s work will struggle to find anything lacking in this story that undoubtably shows why every author must have a cat.
Allen & Unwin 2021
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