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The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs Hardcover – February 2, 2016
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“With engrossing action and great character description and development, Busby has created a story that will enthrall fans of animal fantasy.” —Booklist starred review
"An outstanding choice for fans of middle grade nautical adventure and animal narrator novels, especially cat fans, with appeal beyond genre readers. Highly recommended." —School Library Journal starred review
About the Author
CYLIN BUSBY is the author of several fiction and nonfiction books for young readers. Her memoir, The Year We Disappeared—co-written with her father, John Busby—was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Cybils Award winner. While living on a farm in Tennessee, Cylin’s family kept more than twenty cats in the barn, whose job it was to keep the livestock feed free of vermin. The cat in this book is based on one of those cats—Graybeard—who was born a feeble, sickly runt and went on to become a great mouser. Cylin lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their son. Learn more about Cylin at cylinbusby.com.
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Top customer reviews
I write, and then someone says, 'That's for children.'"
--Maurice Sendak to Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report," January 2012
Like Maurice Sendak, author Cylin Busby has entered an elite circle of authors whose writing is too honest to fit into a simple genre. Busby has written everything: YA lit, true life crime thrillers, middle-school novels, etc. Each one simply shines.
The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs doesn't tell the reader a story from a cat's viewpoint; instead, it transports the reader into the cat's world. We share everything with the runt of the litter, Jacob Tibbs: the painful loss of his mother, the serious responsibility of his role as ship's mouser, his joyful camaraderie with his shipmates, and his unbreakable loyalty to his captain.
Busby's greatest strength is her deep regard for the emotional power of the young reader. The author empathizes deeply with the psychological intensity we all must undergo to grow up. This book does not condescend to the young reader; rather, this book lifts the reader, both young and old, into a greater world.
Melissa, the captain's daughter and a sickly child, persuades her father to allow the runt, Jacob, to stay with his mother. Melissa will not be sailing when the ship leaves. Jacob has four white mittens so folks think he will not be a good ratter. Out of port it is not long before Jacob is learning beside his mother. Three scratches on the floor means that there is a storm coming but alas, this time the captain ignores Mrs. Tibbs! Why? The ship is now owned by Archer Shipping and the son of the owner, who has never sailed in his life, is on board throwing his weight around. Archer wants to get to New York in record time and does not believe a cat can predict the weather. Sadly the captain caves into this pressure (bullying) and orders sails fully up. It is not long before disaster strikes!
What follows is an EXCITING tale of Jacob miraculously surviving through a major storm but ending up on a long boat. Who is with him? Jacob and his "mates" then find themselves on an island before heading back to sea. Does Jacob prove himself to be a good ratter? What about being able to predict an upcoming storm?
WARNING: This book is NOT suitable for the sensitive reader. Listed for 8-12 year olds it really does depend on the maturity of your child. Deaths do occur and on one particular death our 10 year old daughter ran crying from the room! Jacob's first catch is also pretty graphic! For those interested/concerned alcohol is passed among the crew members but not made a big part of the story. There is violence due to the nature of the story but also a great deal of teamwork and loyalty. Who is Leo Bear?
Life on board ship as seen through the eyes of a naive kitten is very amusing at times. This book is a fantasy crossed with some actual history of how things went on board ship at that time. We read this as a read aloud to our family, everyone enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. There are black and white illustrations scattered periodically throughout this well written book. I purchased this book for my Kindle. I was not required to write a review but chose to do so. Thanks, Liz
While the title focuses on Jacob Tibbs, I'd say that this book is just as much -- if not more -- about the men whom he sails with as it is about Tibbs himself and perhaps some young readers (or listeners) might find disappointment in this aspect of the book. The middle chapters focus much more heavily on the plight of his companions and less on Tibbs whereas the bookend chapters tend to be more focused on Tibbs' experience on his maiden journey out to sea.
Those middle chapters are, in some respects, quite dark and can be challenging topics for young readers; death and mortality are topics which do weigh on our young Tibbs. And while there is quite a bit of action, the book does tend to fall into a lull in the middle and may not hold the interest of young readers to continue towards the end; I feel that Busby missed an opportunity in one of the key locales that would have seemed the perfect setting for more discovery and action.
The book has a bit of historical references in it (key port cities of the day) as well as maritime terminology, which I think make for a good jumping off point for more discovery and discussion about topics which a child may not typically encounter. For example: what is a mast? What are the bow and stern sides of a ship? What is a mutiny? How did sailors navigate prior to GPS? Where is Liverpool? Historical trade routes, and so on. It's amazing to just present and think about this idea that just a two hundred years ago, goods could only be transported by wooden ships!
Additionally, the book has strong themes of righteousness, loyalty, camaraderie, and plenty of "grit". Tibbs is the embodiment of all of these and of course, he learns many of these characteristics from his ship's mates and of certainly Captain Natick, who sets a great example of what it means to be a compassionate, effective leader, even when he is the one that needs the most help.
This is a very good read that wraps many difficult topics of life in the guise of a feline adventure on the seas. I think there is an element of depth that is lacking and structurally, Busby has a tendency to run-on and lose focus in some cases by presenting too much detail that doesn't contribute to the plot and I think she missed a prime opportunity to incorporate more adventure and discovery in the middle chapters of the book, but still -- all said and done -- the book is well written and a pleasure to read. I would recommend to readers young and old alike!
Most recent customer reviews
This is the most wonderful children's book I have read in a long time. It's not just for children- in fact adults and cats can enjoy it as well.Read more