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A look at some of the books we've enjoyed
Opusses (1991, ISBN 0 95184 100 9)
These form a quartet of beautifully produced little books by Billie, who began her career in theatre and later moved into theatrical photography and became a cat lover. She moved to the Isle of Wight in 1989, remaining there until her death in 2012, and three of the books involve the cats of the island, many of which she clearly got to know. Opusses, the earliest book, is one of photographs and poems; with each full-page photo of a named cat having an appropriate poem facing it. I think these images pre-date Billie's move to the IOW. Cats of the Isle of Wight is, of course, exactly what it says, and follows a similar pattern to Opusses photos and accompanying poems. Cat photography is not easy, and Billie was clearly a master of the art.
Sheba and the White Whisker, billed as 'a story for children of all ages', is 'a curious tale of a cat, her countrywide tour and arrival at the Isle of Wight' an engagingly written story of Sheba and her adventures. The Magical Quest is another story, this one about the cat Meredith's adventures on the island as he searches for that magical white whisker.
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival
A lavishly illustrated children's book based on the true story of a cat and a dog who survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but were made homeless and then had to fend for themselves on the unfriendly and dangerous streets of the city. After four months they were found, given shelter and ultimately a loving home on a ranch in Oregon. It's an inspiring story of survival and the devotion of two animals to each other.
Bobbi and Bob Cat's story is more fully recounted in our page here.
The Dalai Lama's Cat
This is an interesting and unusual book. There's nothing unusual about a book told through the eyes of a cat but most cats don't live with the Dalai Lama! The novel gives an insight into life with the Dalai Lama and his retinue at their Jokhang complex, and explains much about Buddhist thinking and ways of doing things. I enjoyed reading this account by 'His Holiness's Cat' or 'little Snow Lion', as she is called
The book was inspired by and is dedicated to Michie's own Himalayan cat, Princess Wussik of the Sapphire Throne, who died aged about 17 not long before the book was published.
You can Take the Cat out of Slough ...
This is a sequel to A Cat called Birmingham, which we reviewed earlier (see Folios 3), and is in very much the same vein, recounting the adventures or more often misadventures of Pascoe's cats, especially 'Brum'. This time the proceedings are livened up by human toddler Maya, who can give events an unexpected turn. The book should certainly raise some smiles.
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
This story by the celebrated children's author is set during World War II in Slapton, in southern England, at a time when British and American troops were in the area rehearsing for the D-Day invasion of France. It concerns a 12-year-old boy called Michael, the family cat, known as Tips who later becomes Adolphus Tips (you'll have to read the story to find out why!) and a couple of American soldiers. The tale is said to be based on a true one.
Calvin: A Study of Character
Charles Dudley Warner
This is not a book in itself, being but a few pages long, and it comes as a kind of epilogue to the longer My Summer in a Garden a series of sketches Warner wrote that relate and reflect upon his gardening activities during an entire summer in Connecticut. Calvin was a cat who was given to him by Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom's Cabin) when she moved house, and nothing was known of his origins. He lived with Warner for eight years before he died, and it's clear that Warner regarded him as a friend and thought very highly of him. I found his 'Study of Character' delightful and so thought it worth mentioning. The form in which I bought it is of course a modern print-on-demand one, as I imagine an original would be expensive and hard to come by.
(PublishAmerica, Baltimore, MD, 2011;
ISBN 978 1 4626 3243 5)
This slim volume is a remarkable book that I find hard to describe. It details the work of the author and her husband in setting up and running in the United States an animal charity, later devoted mostly to cats, called 'Helping Paws'. It describes their rescue work, including some quite harrowing cases; goes into the welfare of cats in general, including the vexed question of declawing (illegal in many countries, but not in most of the US); relates their participation in cat shows, TV and all kinds of publicity and like a thread throughout runs the life of an amazing white, blue-eyed cat called Milo. It is very well worth a read, in my opinion but be prepared for some unpleasant truths.
A Street Cat named Bob
The story of James Bowen and the cat who walked into his life and helped to turn it around has become very well known; here is the full story as told by James, and a remarkable one it is and it's clear that Bob is a remarkable cat. It has not all been plain sailing for the pair, but James recounts the ups and downs honestly and in an easy-to-read way. The strong bond between man and cat is obvious. I strongly recommend this book.See also our page in the Famous section for Street Cat Bob.
The Alamo Cat
(Eakin Press, Austin, Texas, 1988;
ISBN 0 89015 639 5))
This small book is a fictionalised account, but based on fact, of the life of Ruby, the cat that became the first 'Alamo cat' at the Alamo in Texas her arrival as a small kitten, her life there, her own kittens and her eventual untimely passing. Her place was later taken by other cats, but Ruby is still remembered and has a memorial in the grounds, marking the spot where she's buried.
Charles: The Story of a Friendship
Printed on wartime 'economy' paper, this slim book recounts the author's experiences with various animals and several cats in his life over a period of years, including Rissa, the wonderfully named Minna Minna Mowbray, and in particular Charles, a Siamese male. He describes Charles as his devoted friend and says of him, 'With him I came nearer than I have ever been, or ever shall be, to bridging the gulf which divides us from the so-called dumb animals.' It's written in the style of the times, but is well worth a read and there are a few excellent photographs.
Animalian (Volume 1)
A highly imaginative and very different novel that I found gripping, this is a story about a time when the animal kingdom rebels against human domination and despoiling of our planet and rises up against the human population but it's nothing like Orwell's 1984. The principal characters include the young girl Drue Beltane and her pet cat and best friend Will-C, and that's why it's reviewed here. Suffice it to say I'm eagerly awaiting the second part, I believe due in 2013.
There's also a feature on the series of children's books by Kathleen Hale,
Orlando, the Marmalade Cat
If you would like to comment or suggest any further titles, please contact me,
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There is none better to be our featured feline at the head of the page than Dewey, beloved and famous library cat of Spencer in Iowa
until his passing at the age of 19 in 2006. Read his story here.
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Page created August 2012, with later revisions and additions