Cat tale is quite a story

Napier Courier - - NEWS -

The Story of Tantrum O’Fur­rily — Cres­sida Cow­ell and Mark Ni­cholas (Hod­der, $19.99) re­viewed by Louise Ward, War­dini Books.

We be­gin this pic­ture book with a lit­ter of hun­gry kit­tens leap­ing across the city rooftops af­ter their mother on the hunt for food. To dis­tract her lit­tle ones the stray mother cat, Tantrum O’Fur­rily, tells a tale of a cat liv­ing a life of lux­ury. Of course she sings the story, be­cause that is what cats do in the night.

The story within a story tells the tale of Small­paw who be­longs to Mrs Wor­rykin, aptly named as she keeps Small­paw safe and cosy in­side the house, with no ad­ven­tures to be had and no sto­ries to be told as “the stray cats are the story cats. The stray cats are BAD cats. They rob food out of dust­bins, they steal and beg and fight with dogs”. Small­paw tries to be a good cat but she’s bored and when Mrs Wor­rykin ac­ci­den­tally leaves the cat flap open she’s off out into the dark and dan­ger­ous night. Who should she meet but a “fine foxy an­i­mal in a bright red coat”. This charm­ing gent is all too will­ing to tell Small­paw a story and I’m sure you can guess its plot. The end of the story seems in­evitable — un­til a stray cat leaps in with a mag­nif­i­cent ‘roooooooowyooowroowme­owooooooowwwww!!!’ and saves the night, the moral of the story be­ing, a cat with courage makes her own story. What a leg­end! That, of course, is not the end of the story as we still have the hun­gry kit­tens on the rooftop lis­ten­ing to their fab­u­lously mon­ick­ered mother who turns out to be…well I’m sure you can guess.

This is ev­ery­thing a pic­ture book for young chil­dren should be — full of ac­tion, story and drama with writerly at­ten­tion paid to the way it reads aloud. The il­lus­tra­tions are alive with move­ment, the an­i­mals crafted to be ap­peal­ingly sweet and furry in a clever pal­ette of greys and blacks for night time shenani­gans and fiery oranges and reds for the height of the ac­tion. There is a moral (kind­ness, brav­ery and friend­ship across so­cial sit­u­a­tions if we want to an­a­lyse it) and the end­ing ties up the dual tales beau­ti­fully.

I rec­om­mend this book for lit­tle lovers of an­i­mals, ad­ven­tures and night-time es­capades. Tantrum O’Fur­rily is the awe­some hero of her own story; the kit­tens are im­pressed, and so are we.

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