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REVIEW: Kaspar, Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Kaspar: Prince of Cats


by Michael Morpurgo, Michael Foreman (Illustrator)

THE BLURB:

Kaspar the cat first came to The Savoy Hotel in a basket - Johnny Trott knows, because he was the one who carried him in. Johnny was a bell-boy, you see, and he carried all of Countess Kandinsky's things to her room.

But Johnny didn't expect to end up with Kaspar on his hands forever, and nor did he count on making friends with Lizziebeth, a spirited American heiress. Pretty soon, events are set in motion that will take Johnny - and Kaspar - all around the world, surviving theft, shipwreck and rooftop rescues along the way. Because everything changes with a cat like Kaspar around. After all, he's Kaspar Kandinsky, Prince of Cats, a Muscovite, a Londoner and a New Yorker, and as far as anyone knows, the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic ...

"I've done a picture of the ship we're sailing home on next week," said Lizziebeth. "Papa says it's the biggest, fastest ship in the whole wide world. She's called the Titanic. Isn't she the most magnificent ship you ever saw?"

"This story was inspired by Kaspar, the legendary cat of the Savoy Hotel in London. But he's a living legend. I know, I've seen him ..." Michael Morpurgo 

MY THOUGHTS:

This is my daughter’s favourite book, and she returns to it again and again. I was curious to know why, so I wrested it from her and sat down to read. 

It really is a delightful book, gorgeously illustrated by Michael Foreman. It tells the story of Johnny Trott, a bellboy at the Savoy, who makes friends with a cat named Kaspar. ‘From his whiskers to his paws he was black all over, jet black and sleek and shiny and beautiful. He knew he was beautiful too. He moved like silk, his head held high, his tail swishing as he went.’ 

Kaspar belongs to a Russian countess who befriends Johnny, and introduces him to a world of beauty and art and music. When the countess tragically dies, Johnny must keep Kaspar safe from the horrible head housekeeper, called ‘Skullface’ by the hotel staff. 

He is helped by the daughter of a rich American who is staying at the Savoy. They have all sorts of adventures – including escaping the sinking of the Titanic – before finding happiness and safety in America. I asked my daughter why she loves it so much, and she said, ‘because it’s about a cat, and a boy and a girl who save it, and because it makes you sad one minute, then happy the next.’ 

Wonderful! 


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