Monday 19 October 2015

Cats on the Run

Cats on the Run by Ged Gillmore PB RRP $19.95 (print), e-book $2.99 ISBN ISBN: 978-0-9941786-0-2 (print); ISBN: 978-0-9941786-1-9 (e-book)

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Why did Scholastic Australia preorder 6,000 copies of this self-published book for its book fairs and book club? Most likely, despite the words ‘pee,’ ‘poo’, and ‘bum’ that appear often, this chapter book for readers aged 8 to 12 years is laugh-aloud funny, quirky and original.

Gillmore’s first book is the first in a series of books following the adventures of two cats, Tuck and Ginger, as they try to escape the evil clutches of a pair of foul-smelling witches, Rodney and Janice. The two live in a high rise apartment with kidnapped cats Ginger, ‘a streamlined ebony athlete’ and Ginger, ‘a flabby middle-aged mog’ until the two (often warring) cats escape.

Gillmore uses an unusual omniscient narrative voice to relate this story; it’s an opinionated storyteller with personality, who speaks with heaps of sarcasm and wit, and plenty of asides to and questions of the child reader. Here is a sample: ‘You really don’t want to be found by a witch, did you know that? And do you know why? Because witches just loved children. Mostly they liked them fried, but Rodney and Janice preferred them grilled because it’s a healthier way of cooking with less cholesterol.’  

The author also employs frequent invented words like ‘bennyhoo’ and ‘bendyway’ (instead of ‘anyhow’) and phrases that make one chuckle (‘hoochie baroochie’, ‘whoopee doobie bingbats’ and ‘phutty-phutty-churg-churg’. Sometimes he uses a word like ‘hermetically’ and then tells his reader to ‘look it up’ before proceeding with the tale-telling. Often he writes very funny alliterative sentences. His writing is full of energy and humour as his story moves from the cats’ adventures to their pursuit by their former owners. The question under-riding the story is: will Tuck and Ginger be able to overcome their differences and work together to save their lives as they flee from their hell-bent captors?

Although the book is very thick (almost 250 pages), it is so different from any other book for middle-grade readers and with so much humour (too much ‘bum gas’ and ‘poo’ though for this adult reader), that it’s sure to be a hit. One can imagine that young readers will be hanging out for the next book in the series. Do we perhaps have another Andy Griffiths waiting in the wings?

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