Saturday 10 October 2015

Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats

Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Birgitta Sif (Walker Books)
HC RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781406362381

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Icelandic author/illustrator Birgitta Sif continues to impress with every new piece of work she produces. In this stunning book, writer and illustrator are a magical combination.

In this perfect collaboration, Birgitta breathes life into a meaningful story with cats as characters, and Crumb as the main one. The themes of shyness and fear and how they can be overcome by kindness and support, are approached with tenderness, insight and humour. The pages are filled with delightful images, full of colour and humour, and the easily recognized strokes and detailed drawings that are the unique trademark of this talented illustrator.

Miss Hazeltine has opened a home for all cats – strays and others that suffer from fear and shyness. They pour in. Some are brought there by their owners. The cats’ fears stem from countless sources such as birds, mice, noise, and wool. Others fear the dark or the light. They fill Miss Hazeltine’s every corner. She confesses to them that she too, has fears: of mushrooms and owls.

The days are filled with lessons on how to overcome their insecurities. The cats practice and repeat what they are taught: how to hold their tails, and arch their backs, and meet new friends. But going out into the world to use these skills takes great courage.

One day the milk runs out, and Miss Hazeltine goes to get some but doesn’t come back. What has happened to her? What will happen to them if they don’t find her? Are the cats brave enough to face the outside world? Has Crumb gained the confidence to lead the cats out of the house, into the dark in scary places in a search for their beloved Miss Hazeltine?

This fantastic book with its eye-catching cover is aimed at the 3+ years age group, but there will be lots of adults reaching for this story filled with endless possibilities.

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