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A look at some more of the books we've enjoyed
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The text here is very '60s' and I find it rather stilted. The book is worth a mention, though, for the series of black-and-white photos that follow, which are reminders of a time when mousers were much more common than they are these days. Concentrating on London cats, we find here the Stock Exchange cat, the Lloyd's of London cat, the Thames River Police cat and others of that ilk. There are some film-star cats of the time, notably a handsome Siamese called George, and some other whimsical images. An interesting snapshot of times gone by.
Shop Cats of New York
If the format were a little larger this would almost be a 'coffee-table book'! Thirty-six very diverse New York businesses and their cats in a few cases more than one are showcased, with descriptions and comments from their owners, and Mr Marttila's photographs are just superb. At the front is a double-page spread listing all the shops, with thumbnails of the feline inhabitants. A very nicely produced tribute to some of the contemporary cats working in the big city.
Simon Ships Out
Based on the well-known story of Simon, ship's cat of HMS Amethyst and Dickin Medal recipient, and using some real-life characters from his life and times, this entertaining book is a fictional telling of the cat's story from his own point of view and in his own words. Simon's life and numerous adventures are followed from his kittenhood in Hong Kong until his untimely death in November 1949 in England. He forms close friendship with ship's dog Peggy and of course the animals can speak to each other! It's an unusual and inventive 'take' on the Simon story.
Jackie Morris has become quite well-known in the cat and book worlds for her paintings and book illustrations, and her accounts of life with her cats on the Pembrokeshire coast in west Wales. This small volume is a collection of her marvellous photographs of her cats in that beautiful environment: the three gingers Elmo, Maurice and Pixie, the oldies Martha and Max and the newer arrivals, the Bengals. I need hardly say the images are superb, and the cats are 'introduced' at the beginning. My only slight criticism is that, although the images have commentaries, mostly they don't say which cats are shown in which picture, and I think that would have been helpful. Nevertheless, a worthy addition to the bookshelf.
Oscar, the Bionic Cat: A Heart-Warming Tale of Feline Bravery
This book, written by one of Oscar's humans, tells the full story of the young black cat's remarkable operation to give him prosthetic back feet, a procedure that was a 'first' and made international news. However, it's less well known that Oscar had had two previous accidents, both involving cars and both involving complicated and expensive operations and long periods of convalescence all before he was two years old! The book relates the doubts and misgivings of his owners about putting him then through a much longer and more complex process; but they eventually decided to go ahead, and when it was finally over it had been a great success and Oscar was able to go home and lead an almost normal life.
That isn't the end of the story, though; sadly one of the implants later snapped. Once again there was the huge dilemma of whether to embark on yet another series of operations to repair it, or whether it would be kinder to put Oscar to sleep. The book ends before that decision had been made (but for later information see our page for Oscar).
Pushkin the Pontifical Puss (Tails of an Oratory Cat)
Pushkin of the Birmingham Oratory became well known after he met Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's visit to the UK in 2010 for the beatification of Cardinal Newman. This engaging small book, written by Pushkin with the aid of his 'personal assistant' Fr Anton Guziel, is the story of that encounter, of Pushkin's life leading up to it and of the media attention that followed. The story is told by the cat to a young boy, Peter, who's visiting the Oratory.
It's fun and there's a foreword by another of Pushkin's distinguished friends, Princess Michael of Kent, and beautiful illustrations by Bernadette Dibbern, who is a Carmelite nun from the Carmel of the Magnificat in Wolverhampton. Proceeds from sales go towards much-needed renovation of the Oratory Church.
See also the page for Pushkin in our section for Church Cats.
The World According to Bob
The second of James's books about his amazing relationship with Bob the cat is a sequel to A Street Cat named Bob and continues the story, bringing it up to date with the publishing of that first book. As before, James writes in an entertaining way, but doesn't skirt around the more difficult periods of his life and his and Bob's journey together.
Where in the World is Bob?
This is a clever and entertaining idea that works well, in my opinion. Based on the online feature of the same name, whereby people sent in photos of James's books displayed against backgrounds of different places worldwide, this book presents a double-page spread on each of 16 countries with wonderfully colourful and detailed drawings by Steve Wiltshire.
Somewhere in each spread are to be found representations of James, Bob and items associated with them, such as a scarf, a guitar, etc. Readers are invited to locate nine figures or objects in each country and believe me, they are not all easy to find! There are instructions at the front, and a key at the back (for when you fail to find everything I had to resort to it several times).
Author of the true tales of the Moon Cottage cats (see Folios 1 and 5), Marilyn Edwards ventures into fiction with this story of a cat who has a bad start in life when, as a youngster, he's dumped in the woods to fend for himself. It's a real roller-coaster of a ride, with both highs and lows, but always believable and with the same love for and knowledge of the feline species shown in her earlier books. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Incidentally, several of the cats featured are based on ones belonging to the illustrator, France Bauduin.
Another fictional story from the same author as White Chin (opposite), this also I found to be 'a good read'. It tells of a boy, Ben, who desperately wants to have a dog, but circumstances dictate that he ends up with 'Magnificat'. Although he is very doubtful about the whole thing at first, after various adventures and experiences Ben and Magnificat become soul mates. Beautifully observed and written.
I happened to see a reference to this book somewhere online and was pleased to find that a second-hand copy was available, because it's a little gem. The author and his photographer friend visited many of the London institutions that had cats in residence far more in 1953 than now wrote about them and took some superb photos. There were cats at the Stock Exchange, at the Tower of London, at Lloyds, in Fleet Street and a number of other places. Very well worth a browse, and a look back at a different era; what a shame there are now so few such places maintaining the feline tradition, if indeed there are any. I've used the frontispiece photo, as my book has no dust cover and is otherwise plain.
Tales of the Tailless
As might be deduced from the name, this small, soft-cover book is all about Manx cats and I mean all! It's packed with just about everything you could possibly want to know, from the types of Manx, origins and characteristics to tales of particular Manx cats over the years, and the appearance of the breed on postage stamps. It's lavishly illustrated, with many images from the author and his wife's collection of historic postcards, but there are numerous photos too. A fascinating anthology.
There's also a feature on the series of children's books by Kathleen Hale,
Orlando, the Marmalade Cat
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