From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-When danger, in the form of a strange man and his two deadly feline companions, intrudes upon the sheltered existence of a family of Mesopotamian Blue cats, Varjak must venture Outside for the first time to seek help. He meets a feral cat named Holly, who takes him to the city and helps him survive on the mean streets. His nights are filled with dreams of his fabled ancestor Jalal, who teaches him the Seven Skills of the Way of Jalal; they help him, in his waking hours, learn to fight and hunt. After run-ins with several cat gangs, the protagonist befriends a dog that helps him and Holly to rescue Varjak's family and hundreds of other cats from being turned into robotlike creatures to be sold as toys. The jumbled plot leaves many unanswered questions. Readers never learn why this evil man wants to turn cats into robots, and why he uses Varjak's owner's house as a base of operations. It's also not clear what the Way has to do with anything. In a story filled with so many holes, only the illustrations offer consistent pleasure. Warm yellow pictures drench the pages on which Jalal teaches Varjak the Way, which nicely evoke the Mesopotamian setting of the dreams; the rest of the drawings are edgy black-ink silhouettes of cats and other animals; they're energetic and expressive. Despite the compelling art, most libraries can skip this animal fantasy.Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-6. In this British import, a Mesopotamian Blue kitten, Varjak Paw, leaves his sheltered, privileged life to venture out into the world to save his family from invading black cats. To survive in a dangerous city full of vicious dogs, cat gangsters, and the mysterious, evil Vanishings, Varjak learns the Seven Skills in the Way of Jalal, a secret martial art for cats. Mastering the Way helps the cat learn to trust his own instincts, which comes in handy after he decides to enlist the help of a dog to fight the evil cats and save his family. Varjak is a spirited adventurer who evolves gradually and believably into a courageous protagonist. By cleverly and adeptly relating the story through a cat's perspective, Said makes the novel especially fascinating. McKean's striking, black-and-white sketches add an edgy, haunting aspect to the tale, which is full of action, adventure, and suspense. The story is sure to leave readers looking forward to more about the formidable feline. Ed SullivanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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