The Book Cat takes us back in time to London in World War Two. This wonderfully heartwarming story is inspired by a cat who made his home in the offices of publisher Faber and Faber and was also the inspiration for a poem in T S Eliot’s Old Possums Book of Practical Cats.
The Story: Morgan and his sister, Maeve, are born in a London underground station in September 1940, on the night that the first enemy bombers arrive. After becoming an orphan Morgan has to learn to fend for himself until he finds a home at Faber and Faber where he becomes Resident Mouser and Door Cat. When the Blitz begins Morgan finds himself training up a group of kittens to be book cats. But as London becomes more dangerous Morgan must find a way to evacuate them and send them to safe homes…
Sadly Morgan’s mum and sister are killed by a bomb. He learns to fend for himself until two years later an incident with a banana leads him to the publishing house. Morgan soon becomes familiar with the roles of authors and illustrators and finds a way to help the publisher choose new ones.
But Morgan doesn’t forget what it was like to be on the streets and invites the stray cats in the neighbourhood to an evening of eating and dancing in what becomes a meeting place called The Cat’s Pyjamas!
The Cat’s Pyjamas provides a refuge for the cats but danger is never far away so Morgan makes it his mission to turn the kittens into book cats and rehouse them – we love the ingenious ways he finds to help the kittens leave for safety with unsuspecting poets, authors and illustrators!
Clara Vulliamy’s fabulous illustrations are full of fun and capture the expressions, personalities and mischievousness of the different cats.
We love the predominantly black and white colour scheme with splashes of reds and orange. Morgan was born on a copy of The Evening Standard and finds sleeping on paper comforting, it reminds him of his mother and sister, Maeve.
This early chapter book with its sturdy, hardback cover is perfect for newly independent readers – it has a perfect balance of words and pictures. We love the chapter headings – Cat Burglar, Door Cat, Planner Cat – they all hint at the events of the chapter and the many roles that Morgan plays throughout the story.
The Book Cat would be a fantastic story to include in a Year 2/3 classroom topic on World War Two. Dates are clearly marked throughout the book and historical facts are intertwined throughout the story.
Age Range: 6+