Monday 21 September 2009

Catwalk : A Feline Odyssey - Kathie Freeman

Do you remember at primary school, when the teacher always used to say, "Imagine you're an animal and write your story". Well, this is exactly that story ! It's the delightfully simple, almost childlike, tale of a friendly tabby cat, who finds herself in all sorts of scrapes and adventures. As the old proverb says, curiosity killed the cat - or in this case, curiosity sent the cat thousands of miles away from its owners into a scary, hostile, totally unknown world - and we follow her epic journey as she tries to make her way back home.

They say that cats have nine lives and our feline narrator has at least that many, frequently changing name as she is adopted by various humans for short periods of time. She is a bit like a kitty cross between Bill Bryson and Forrest Gump, as she describes the landscapes and wildlife she encounters as she crosses America but frequently showing her delightful naivety and innocence, not always knowing or understanding the things she is witnessing.

The author perfectly depicts the playful feline behaviour any cat-lover would instantly recognise, such as playing with knitting yarn and desperately trying to catch prairie dogs as they pop up in their desert hidey-holes, and these passages are very entertaining and endearing.

Beneath its childlike simplicity, the tale does offer some slight social comment though. It is very subtly done but we can detect the author's viewpoint in her descriptions of the hoboes, the young runaway and the impoverished poacher desperately trying to keep his family's head above water, as well as those heartless owners who abandon their pets when they become too much of a burden.

Despite a few moments of poignancy, the book has a very lightweight, happy feel. It would appeal to younger readers too and I am tempted to reread at least part of it with my daughter at bedtimes. I could easily see this being made into a classic Disney cartoon, like a modern-day remake of The Incredible Journey !

star rating : 4/5

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kathleen Mc Pugh (September 20, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0974206237
ISBN-13: 978-0974206233

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