Say hello to a new contributor for the Lit Review column, Sarah Loh. Her first review is a children’s book.
Who: Born in Lancashire, Sarah Todd Tayl0r was brought up in Yorkshire and moved to Wales when she was 8 years old. She studied history at university and remained in higher education as a researcher and then as a strategic planner. She has had short stories published in several anthologies. Her sophomore effort after her debut children’s book Arthur and Me is Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva.
What: Maximilian, a fluffy white cat accustomed to the finer things in life, suddenly finds himself out on the streets one night after one bad mouse chase. Scruffy and inevitably lost, he meets Oscar, a street-smart cat who helps him sneak into the Theatre Royal for shelter. It is here that Max finds a new family and officially becomes the theatre’s chief mouse-hunter. The adventure truly begins when Max senses something amiss with the theatre’s latest member — the famous singer Madame Emerald. There is something really fishy (and not the good kind) going on with Madame Emerald and it is up to Max to find out why before something terrible happens.
Why: This is one of those books written for children but can also be enjoyed by adults. The plot may be simple and straightforward (and a little clichéd but then again, I am reading it as an adult), but the build-up of the story is engaging and well-written. The storytelling isn’t flimsy and in fact, the scenes are so descriptive that the beautiful illustrations by Nicola Kinnear became secondary as I could already visualise the story based on the words alone.
What I like most about the book are the themes explored in the story ¾ the true meaning of family/love, the idea of freedom and the courage to step out of your comfort zone. There are also heavier themes slightly hinted at in the story, particularly regarding the origins of Maximilian and how he ended up the Theatre Royal. I also like the cat-racter development of the lovable Max as it is a delight to see him learning to be more cat-like. This book is honestly a joy to read and I am keen to see what’s next for Max in this series.
Best/Worst Line: “Maximilian was a cat of many miaows, but he had no miaow for this occasion.”
Verdict: The protagonist is a cat; what’s not to like? (10/10)
Reading Level: Aged 8 and up
Availability: Paperback, RM41.90
Thanks to Pansing Distribution for an advance reading copy of this book.