Newest Review: ... her cat, Kaspar with her. The cat is a very beautiful and unique animal, a prince among cats, and the boy, Johnny is in awe of this fel... more
Titanic Trouble for Kaspar the Cat
Kaspar: Prince of Cats - Michael Morpurgo
Member Name: loopy-lou33
Kaspar: Prince of Cats - Michael Morpurgo
Advantages: Engaging story about the Titanic
Disadvantages: Disliked some of the ghostly suggestions.
My 10 year old son is obsessed with books by the author Michael Morpurgo, and devours them as soon as he gets his hands on one. His book "habit" can be a bit of an expensive one to feed, but I got really lucky a couple of weeks ago when I found a hardback copy of Kaspar Prince of Cats at a local jumble sale. The book was in pristine condition, and only cost a mere 20p, a big drop from the £12.99 RRP. I have been reading a chapter every night to the kids before bed, although my son pinched it and read the whole lot in a couple of days!
Like most of Morpurgo's books, this is another engaging and emotional animal story. The story is set in the year 1912, and the setting for the tale is the Savoy Hotel in London. The story is told from the perspective of a young orphan boy who works at the hotel as a bellboy. One day a beautiful opera singer comes to stay at the hotel and brings her cat, Kaspar with her. The cat is a very beautiful and unique animal, a prince among cats, and the boy, Johnny is in awe of this feline and his glamorous owner from the moment that he meets them.
I won't give too much of the plot away, but the story takes a few dramatic twists and turns, culminating in Johnny and Kaspar, as well as their new friend, Lizziebeth taking passage on the Titanic. Well, it doesn't take a genius to work out what happens next....!
This is another fabulous and riveting read by Morpurgo. It is also a great way to teach children a little history about the Titanic and about what life was like for children back in 1912. The main character is an orphan with no family, and this is a great way to explain to children about the fact that even children had to work to survive in those days. Things were definitely not as comfortable as they are today for kids.
The author took inspiration for the novel from his time as author in residence at the Savoy. During his time there, he saw a sculpture of a black cat. He made enquiries about the sculpture, and it turned out that the cat was known as Kaspar, and the "lucky cat" sculpture would sit in a chair at the hotel to ensure that there were never 13 people at the table, which was considered unlucky. The author used this to build on a story and incorporated the Titanic theme when he went to a restaurant that reminded him of pictures he had seen of the Titanic interior. He built these two threads into a story and Kaspar was born.
My kids loved the story and I did too. It would appeal to kids between 7 and 14 in my opinion. The characters were well rounded and appealing, even the spoilt little Lizziebeth, who was annoying at first, started to appeal more as I went through the book. There was a great contrast too, beween the kind characters in the book, and the villainous housekeeper, Skullface.
The only aspect of the book that I wasn't so keen on were the suggestions of characters living on as ghosts after death. To me it seems too much of a "get out clause" to try and pacify children when a character dies. I don't really like it as a plot theme, but on the other hand, it wasn't overdone, and these were merely hints and suggestions rather than anything too overbearing.
The book is illustrated beautifully throughout, and the pictures look like watercolour paintings. They really capture the scenes well, and I often had a picture of the story in my mind, only to find that I would turn the page, and there would be a very similar illustration. The illustrator and author really seem to be on the same page (I know...bad pun...groan...) with their ideas.
This book was a bargain for 20p and a worthy, thought provoking read that had my emotions all over the place! A really fantastic story for children that teaches them some history and makes them think, too. It has to be a full 5 stars from me.
Summary: A fresh way of looking at the Titanic story.
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