Wednesday 8 November 2017

When the Cat’s Away

When the Cat’s Away written by Donna Gibbs, ill. Lionel King (MoshPit Publishing) PB RRP $14.95 ISBN 9781925666434

Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Gussie and her well-to-do family have arrived at their new home, a charming and comfortable mouse house at Le Café des Chats in Paris. Both her twin brother Pierre and Gussie are eager to explore their new surroundings, but not before Papa Mouse reminds them of the dangers that could be about. Soon enough, Pierre falls victim to the broom of a waiter and is catapulted onto a delivery van distributing baguettes throughout the city. Gussie rescues her brother but they are now far from their new home and must find their way back. Gussie leads the way, but danger is ever-present. 

The narrow escapes of the mice as they trek the unfamiliar streets of Paris add a humorous touch to the tale, as does the final illustration. Just when Mama and Papa decide they will be quite safe living in their new home another danger is lurking just beyond the mouse hole.

With the delightful sites of Paris and its cuisine, combined with French words and phrases, When the Cat’s Away provides an opportunity to share both the culture and the experience of losing one’s way in Paris (yep, been there, done that …). The feeling of being lost could also be familiar to the reader and worthy of further discussion. The illustrations are varied in layout, capture the tone of the city and enhance the tale. An enjoyable read to share with children of the early childhood years.

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