233. Kaspar, Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo

Kaspar, Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo. Illustrated by Michael Foreman. (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 208
Ages: 8+
Finished: Oct. 13, 2011
First Published: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: children, historical fiction, cats, Titanic
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

Prince Kaspar Kadinsky first came to the Savoy Hotel in a basket.

Acquired: I'm visiting relatives and borrowed this book from my niece.

Reason for Reading: I've read and enjoyed the author before plus I am a Titanic fan.

This is an entirely fictional story about three things, two of them rooted in actual fact.  First and foremost it is the story of fourteen year old Johnny Trott, orphan, currently working as bell boy at the Savoy Hotel, secondly it is a story of how the famous sculpture of the Savoy Hotel cat may have come to be and thirdly, it is an account of the sinking of the Titanic.

An important guest at the hotel befriends Johnny and instructs him to watch over her cat, Kaspar, while she is away from her rooms.  Misfortune befalls her and Johnny keeps the cat as his own.  Then another family comes to stay and he befriends the impish daughter of a wealthy couple.  Here we deal with different types of friendship and love that Johnny has never experienced in his life before and this is the basic theme of the book.  To add some adventure, the family is fated to sail home to New York on the "unsinkable" ship, the Titanic.  Both Johnny and Kaspar end up on board but I won't tell you how or why but this eventually leads to the sculpture of the Kaspar cat being presented to the Savoy.

A fun story that will appeal to both boys and girls.  It is an easy-going book with the first half dedicated to Johnny and his relationships, much more character driven than anything else.  I enjoyed this half the best.  The second half picks up the pace and adds escapades and finally an account of the Titanic's sinking that is quite realistic.  The author ends with a Post Script telling the reader how, as a writer, he pulled the real elements from life and created his fictional story from them.

Final word on the illustrations, Michael Foreman is a prolific illustrator and one of the best England has to offer.  This book is no exception; it is profusely illustrated, in colour, and it was a delight to read a chapter book in colour for a change.


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